NFL and College Football Articles

NFL and College Football Articles

Reports: Falcons sign DL Bailey

Reports: Falcons sign DL Bailey

Reports: Falcons sign DL Bailey

The Atlanta Falcons agreed to a two-year, $10.5 million deal with defensive lineman Allen Bailey on Monday, according to multiple media reports.

The deal includes $6 million in 2019 and $3.5 million guaranteed, per ESPN and NFL Network.

Bailey became a free agent in March but remained unsigned despite several reported visits, including with the Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots.

The 30-year-old posted six sacks and 10 quarterback hits in 16 games (13 starts) for the Kansas City Chiefs last season, playing end and tackle in their 3-4 scheme. He could contribute at both spots for the Falcons, who lost end Steven Means to a torn Achilles in May and tackle Michael Bennett to a reported broken ankle Monday, the first day of training camp.

Bailey has 19.5 career sacks and 33 QB hits in 102 games (61 starts), all spent in Kansas City. The Chiefs took him in the third round of the 2011 draft out of Miami (Fla.).

–Field Level Media

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Oakland Raiders training camp primer

Oakland Raiders training camp primer

New faces: WR Antonio Brown, OT Trent Brown, WR Tyrell Williams,

Oakland Raiders training camp primer

New faces: WR Antonio Brown, OT Trent Brown, WR Tyrell Williams, S LaMarcus Joyner, DE Clelin Ferrell, RB Josh Jacobs, S Jonathan Abram, LB Vontaze Burfict, G Richie Incognito, LB Brandon Marshall, RB Isaiah Crowell, CB Nevin Lawson, CB Trayvon Mullen, QB Mike Glennon

They’re gone: TE Jared Cook, G Kelechi Osemele, WR Jordy Nelson, OT Donald Penn, RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Seth Roberts, S Reggie Nelson, S Marcus Gilchrist, CB Rashaan Melvin

2019 snapshot: Never lacking for headlines, the Raiders had another eventful offseason that, in turn, landed them on HBO’s Hard Knocks for the first time.

Jon Gruden’s hire of GM Mike Mayock was surprising, but Mayock’s eye for talent is well regarded. The pair then embarked on an aggressive search for talent while simultaneously touting culture and then disregarding it.

The Raiders justified taking Ferrell fourth overall — a reach on almost any draft board — by lauding his impeccable character, even after the team added talented-but-disruptive veterans in Antonio Brown and Burfict (and later Incognito). Oakland’s other first-round picks (Jacobs and Abram) were better values, but both play positions of relatively low value, and it’s hard to imagine either bringing sufficient return for the trading away of Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack.

Oakland’s spending spree in free agency drew some criticism, as Trent Brown (four years, $66 million), Joyner (four years, $42 million) and Williams (four years, $43 million) were all handsomely overpaid. However, the Raiders smartly structured deals to be escaped after one or two years with minimal cap consequences. The same was true of Antonio Brown’s new deal (three years, $50.1 million), which can be chopped easily after two years if things go south.

Those deals were still too rich, but there are much worse uses of cap space.

Worth the investment?

–Even if things don’t click with all the new arrivals, the Raiders have enough talent to reach their over/under of six wins. Betting on more is reasonable but not without risk.

–It wasn’t that long ago (mid-2016) that Derek Carr was getting peripheral MVP buzz. That was clearly premature, but his 100-1 odds to win it in 2019 might be worth a shot.

Bottom line: The Raiders were hypocritical in emphasizing character and handed out some massive salaries, but they also made major talent upgrades, especially if Antonio Brown pans out.

–Field Level Media

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Los Angeles Chargers training camp primer

Los Angeles Chargers training camp primer

New faces: LB Thomas Davis, QB Tyrod Taylor, DT

Los Angeles Chargers training camp primer

New faces: LB Thomas Davis, QB Tyrod Taylor, DT Jerry Tillery, S Nasir Adderley, P Tyler Newsome

They’re gone: WR Tyrell Williams, DT Corey Liuget, S Jahleel Addae, CB Jason Verrett, DT Darius Philon, P Donnie Jones

2019 snapshot: Already one of the better teams in the AFC, the Chargers didn’t need any remodeling this spring, instead focusing on minor touchups.

They found much-needed talent and depth at linebacker, re-signing Denzel Perryman (two years, $12 million) and adding Davis (two years, $10.5 million) on very reasonable deals. Dime safety Adrian Phillips (one year, $2 million) was also retained for cheap, giving coordinator Gus Bradley several options to cover tight ends and running backs.

GM Tom Telesco addressed the D-line by keeping Brandon Mebane (two years, $10.6 million) and drafting Tillery, whose upside is among the highest of any prospect in the 2019 draft class. He then found a perfect partner for Derwin James in Adderley (second round), who has the speed and ball skills to patrol center field while James hunts in the box.

Williams’ departure was inevitable (and should bring a fourth-round compensatory pick). While another body at wide receiver would have helped, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin and Dylan Cantrell should be able to pick up the slack. The O-line could have used an upgrade or two — guards Dan Feeney and Michael Schofield and right tackle Sam Tevi struggled at times last year — but continuity usually breeds improvement up front, and there’s still hope for 2017 second-rounder Forrest Lamp to develop.

Worth the investment?

–Taking the over on the Chargers’ 10-win total is scary given their rotten luck in recent years, but this team is good enough to win 13 or even 14.

–Philip Rivers has never won MVP, garnering only two votes when he led the NFL in passer rating in 2008. But there are worse bets than his +2000 odds.

Bottom line: Two wins from the Super Bowl a year ago, the Chargers didn’t mess with the formula and still found a few upgrades. They should threaten in the playoffs yet again.

–Field Level Media

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Vikings sign long snapper/Air Force 2d Lt. Cutting

Vikings sign long snapper/Air Force 2d Lt. Cutting

Austin Cutting

Vikings sign long snapper/Air Force 2d Lt. Cutting

Austin Cutting has two new jobs.

The 21-year-old Texas native is an acquisitions officer for the Air Force, and he also signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday to be a long snapper.

The Vikings made him a seventh-round draft pick (250th overall) out of the Air Force Academy in April.

Cutting, a second lieutenant, will be allowed to serve his two-year military commitment while simultaneous playing in the NFL, the (Saint Paul, Minn.) Pioneer Press reported Sunday.

According to the newspaper, Cutting was set to receive a four-year, $2.59 million contract, including a $74,576 signing bonus.

The Air Force plans to employ Cutting as a recruiting officer, according to his agent, Darren Deloatche.

“(Cutting is) thankful,” Deloatche told the Pioneer Press. “It’s a weight off his shoulders at this stage. … He’s definitely excited about this opportunity to compete in the NFL right now. … But he wants to serve his country.”

The Vikings reported that Cutting will challenge incumbent Kevin McDermott for the role as the team’s long snapper.

With Cutting and New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and outside linebacker Oshane Ximines signing Monday, only four of this year’s draft picks remain unsigned: San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (first round), New York Jets defensive linemen Quinnen Williams (first round), Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns (first round) and 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (second round).

–Field Level Media

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Giants sign first-round QB Jones

Giants sign first-round QB Jones

The New York Giants agreed to terms Monday with their first-round pick,

Giants sign first-round QB Jones

The New York Giants agreed to terms Monday with their first-round pick, quarterback Daniel Jones, multiple outlets reported.

Based on his draft slot, Jones’ deal will be worth more than $25 million over four years. Like all first-round picks, his deal has a fifth-year team option.

Jones, 22, was the No. 6 overall pick after passing for 8,201 yards and 52 touchdowns in 36 games at Duke from 2016-18. He was the second quarterback off the board, following No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray to the Arizona Cardinals.

Jones is expected to be on the field when the Giants open training camp Thursday in East Rutherford, N.J. Also present will be third-round outside linebacker Oshane Ximines, who signed his deal earlier Monday.

Jones’ and Ximines’ signings leave only four unsigned draft picks: San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (No. 2 overall), New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (No. 3), Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns (No. 16) and 49ers wideout Deebo Samuel (No. 36 overall).

–Field Level Media

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Kansas City Chiefs training camp primer

Kansas City Chiefs training camp primer

New faces: DE

Kansas City Chiefs training camp primer

New faces: DE Frank Clark, S Tyrann Mathieu, DE Alex Okafor, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, RB Carlos Hyde, CB Bashaud Breeland, LB Darron Lee, LB Damien Wilson, S Juan Thornhill, WR Mecole Hardman, DT Khalen Saunders

They’re gone: OLB Dee Ford, OLB Justin Houston, S Eric Berry, C Mitch Morse, DT Allen Bailey, CB Steven Nelson, TE Demetrius Harris, WR Chris Conley, RB Spencer Ware, S Eric Murray, S Ron Parker

2019 snapshot: The team that came thisclose to a Super Bowl appearance didn’t rest on its laurels, instead churning the coaching staff and roster, particularly on defense.

Steve Spagnuolo replaced fired D-coordinator Bob Sutton, while Clark, Mathieu and Okafor/Ogbah step in for departed Pro Bowlers Ford, Berry and Houston, respectively. At best, those changes feel like a wash, especially because Clark and Mathieu have higher salaries than their counterparts (and acquiring Clark cost Kansas City its first-round pick).

The defense added enough talent to improve, depending on how quickly the group clicks under Spagnuolo, but there are still concerns. Unless Breeland returns to his form from Washington, cornerback remains a question mark. There’s also no dangerous edge-rushing threat other than Clark. Chris Jones could hold out while seeking a massive extension entering a contract year, and locking him up is imperative after trading Ford and releasing Houston.

The Chiefs caught a break when Tyreek Hill avoided league punishment following a child and family services investigation. The pick of Hardman (second round) provided some insurance, but Hill’s role as a centerpiece in Andy Reid’s offense would have been impossible to fill if he missed time. The offense made few other additions while losing its starting center (Morse) and a few role players, and all numbers suggest at least slight regression from 2018’s heights.

–Patrick Mahomes’ sudden stardom makes the Chiefs an annual favorite for double-digit wins. Taking the over on 10.5 wins always carries risk, but this team is a good bet.

–Battling voter fatigue and year-to-year regression, only Peyton Manning (who did it twice) has won back-to-back MVPs since 1996. We’d steer clear of Mahomes’ +450 odds (best by 200) to repeat.

Bottom line: The Chiefs clearly worked to improve on defense, but the upgrades appear marginal for now. They remain Super Bowl contenders but might have to keep winning shootouts.

–Field Level Media

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Philadelphia Eagles training camp primer

Philadelphia Eagles training camp primer

New faces: DT Malik Jackson, WR

Philadelphia Eagles training camp primer

New faces: DT Malik Jackson, WR DeSean Jackson, RB Jordan Howard, DE Vinny Curry, LB Zach Brown, OT Andre Dillard, RB Miles Sanders, WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, S Andrew Sendejo, LB L.J. Fort,

They’re gone: QB Nick Foles, DE Michael Bennett, WR Golden Tate, LB Jordan Hicks, DE Chris Long, DT Haloti Ngata, WR Jordan Matthews, RB Darren Sproles

2019 snapshot: One of the few teams in the league without any real glaring holes to fill, Philadelphia entered the offseason with plenty of flexibility and put it to good use.

Three former Eagles — DeSean Jackson, Curry and Timmy Jernigan — were brought back for cheap, and GM Howie Roseman also signed two former Pro Bowl defenders who were released (Malik Jackson, Brown). Bennett (traded to New England) and Long (retired) will be missed, but Curry, a healthy Derek Barnett and a freshly paid Brandon Graham should be sufficient on the edge.

Roseman also had a great draft, starting with a mini trade-up past Houston to nab Jason Peters’ successor in Dillard. He acquired Howard for cheap (2020 conditional sixth-rounder) and drafted offensive contributors in Sanders and Arcega-Whiteside, both of whom could have roles from Day 1. The Eagles are also in line for more draft capital in 2020 thanks to the compensatory pick formula.

Foles’ departure was unavoidable, but the Eagles drafted Clayton Thorson and moved quickly to extend Carson Wentz. That extension — while complicated in structure — looks like a clear win for the team. Any deal would carry some risk given Wentz’s injury history, but if he remains healthy moving forward, Philadelphia will have one of the league’s best quarterbacks on a deal significantly short of the top of the market.

Worth the investment?

–After 13 wins in 2017 and nine last season, the Eagles’ over/under is set at 10 this year. Wentz’s injury history isn’t enough to shy away from the over.

–Wentz was likely headed for his first MVP award before tearing his ACL late in 2017. Betting on him to do so this year at +1500 is a fair wager.

Bottom line: Few GMs in the business are better than Roseman, who put together another strong offseason with a clear and coherent plan. There’s no reason the Eagles shouldn’t compete for a Super Bowl appearance.

–Field Level Media

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New York Giants training camp primer

New York Giants training camp primer

New faces:

New York Giants training camp primer

New faces: WR Golden Tate, QB Daniel Jones, OG Kevin Zeitler, S Jabrill Peppers, OT Mike Remmers, OLB Markus Golden, S Antoine Bethea, DT Dexter Lawrence, CB Deandre Baker, DT Olsen Pierre, DE Oshane Ximines, CB Julian Love

They’re gone: WR Odell Beckham Jr., S Landon Collins, OLB Olivier Vernon, OLB Connor Barwin, G Jamon Brown, DT Mario Edwards, CB B.W. Webb, DT Kerry Wynn

2019 snapshot: For someone who once said “you don’t quit on talent,” GM Dave Gettleman sent an awfully large amount of it out the door this offseason.

Beckham, Collins and Vernon — arguably three of the team’s four best players — are gone, with only Peppers, Lawrence (first round), Ximines (third), Zeitler and a 2020 third-round compensatory pick in return. Pretty much any way you slice it, that’s a poor tradeoff. Even if you agree with trading Beckham, spending $21.5 million on him just months before the trade is indefensible. Collins likely would have had trade value had the Giants simply franchise-tagged him.

Gettleman drew more ire by drafting Jones sixth overall, a reach on almost any board. The GM deserves credit for ensuring he landed the quarterback he wanted, but Jones carries plenty of concerns, including a perceived lower ceiling than Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock.

Among the Giants’ other moves, Tate’s contract (four years, $37.5 million) seemed a bit oversized for a player who appears redundant with newly extended slot wideout Sterling Shepard (four years, $41 million) already on the roster. One-year pacts for Golden and Remmers look like possible bargains, and the draft brought plenty of reinforcements on defense. But that’s not enough to redeem what was otherwise an alarming approach from Gettleman.

–Big Blue clearly downgraded in talent, but bottoming out appears unlikely. The Giants look like a sneaky bet to hit the over if you can find a line at 5.5 wins instead of six.

–Adrian Peterson (2012) is the lone running back to win MVP since 2006, and that required nearly breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. We’d pass on Saquon Barkley (+5000), even though he should get plenty of volume.

Bottom line: Unless Jones sees the field and shows promise — which might only happen once the Giants are out of contention — Gettleman looks to be in for a long season.

–Field Level Media

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Indianapolis Colts training camp primer

Indianapolis Colts training camp primer

New faces: DE Justin

Indianapolis Colts training camp primer

New faces: DE Justin Houston, WR Devin Funchess, RB Spencer Ware, CB Rock Ya-Sin, LB Ben Banogu, WR Parris Campbell, LB Bobby Okereke

They’re gone: WR Dontrelle Inman, DT Al Woods, WR Ryan Grant, S J.J. Wilcox, G Matt Slauson, S Mike Mitchell

2019 snapshot: With more than $45 million still remaining in cap space, the Colts certainly could have gone bigger in free agency.

Trey Flowers, Earl Thomas, Ndamukong Suh and Le’Veon Bell were all realistic options, and Indianapolis probably could have nabbed two of them. But GM Chris Ballard is committed to smart, patient building, and it’s hard to question that approach after he orchestrated the Colts’ bounce-back season in 2018.

Ballard did pay up for Houston (two years, $24 million), who immediately brings a pass-rush presence the team hasn’t had since Robert Mathis retired, and on extensions for CBs Pierre Desir (three years, $22.5 million) and Kenny Moore (four years, $34 million). He also kept S Clayton Geathers (one year, $2.8 million) and DT Margus Hunt (two years, $9 million) on modest deals. The biggest surprise was the one-year, $10 million deal (with $3 million in incentives) for Funchess, who fell out of favor in Carolina.

Ballard didn’t do anything fancy in the draft, either, trading down a few times to collect a war chest of picks and spending them mostly on defensive talents. Ya-Sin, Okereke and Banogu will compete to start from Day 1, with all likely to have at least a rotational role early on. The lone offensive pick, Campbell, will be one of Frank Reich’s favorite weapons, with wheels to terrify defenses on the speedy Lucas Oil Stadium turf.

Worth the investment?

–The Colts have come a long way, going from 1-5 last season to being one of seven teams this year with a double-digit over/under win total (10). They’re capable of topping that mark, but 11 wins is a lot for any team.

–Yet to win an MVP in his career, Andrew Luck seems destined for one sooner or later. Unfortunately, Vegas feels the same way, putting his odds (+650) behind only reigning winner Patrick Mahomes (+450).

Bottom line: If Indy’s Super Bowl window were closing, you could question Ballard’s lack of aggression this offseason. But it’s not, and the Colts might still wind up in Miami in February anyway.

–Field Level Media

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Houston Texans training camp primer

Houston Texans training camp primer

New faces: S Tashaun

Houston Texans training camp primer

New faces: S Tashaun Gipson, CB Bradley Roby, OT Matt Kalil, OT Tytus Howard, OL Max Scharping, S Jahleel Addae, CB Lonnie Johnson, TE Darren Fells, TE Kahale Warring

They’re gone: S Tyrann Mathieu, CB Kareem Jackson, WR Demaryius Thomas, OT Kendall Lamm, CB Kevin Johnson, TE Ryan Griffin, DT Christian Covington, RB Alfred Blue, CB Kayvon Webster

Firing GM Brian Gaine 17 months into a five-year contract was certainly cause for concern. Gaine wasn’t given the resources nor the time to prove he was the wrong man for the job, and the Texans weren’t able to pry Nick Caserio from New England (yet) to replace him, choosing to go without a GM for the 2019 season.

How will they navigate without a GM? Will the post remain open until Caserio’s Patriots contract is up after the 2020 draft?

Either way, many of the Texans’ moves this spring were curious. Set on improving Deshaun Watson’s protection, Houston focused on offensive tackle but might not have made large enough gains.

Free agent signee Kalil is a liability even when healthy. In the draft, the Texans were jumped by the Eagles for Andre Dillard and then took Howard 23rd overall, a significant reach on most boards for the Alabama State product. Scharping (second round, Northern Illinois) provides another option, but trusting small-school rookies to play early is dangerous.

The secondary turned over without really improving, as Gipson, Roby and Lonnie Johnson must make up for the more proven trio of Mathieu, Jackson and Kevin Johnson. Franchise-tagged linebacker Jadeveon Clowney remains away from the team and without a long-term contract, and the roster has other weak spots (tight end, guard) despite the Texans still holding $40 million in cap space.

Worth the investment?

–After winning 11 games and their division last season, the Texans should probably top their 8-win over/under, but a disappointing season is certainly possible given the improved AFC South.

–Watson has the star power and talent to win MVP, and his odds are rather enticing. At +3300, he’s even with Jimmy Garoppolo and a longer shot than Mitchell Trubisky (+2000).

Bottom line: The Texans don’t look all that improved, and they enter the year without a GM, which puts just about anything on the table.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Redskins OT Williams to hold out

NFL notebook: Redskins OT Williams to hold out

NFL notebook: Redskins OT Williams to hold out

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams is not expected to report to training camp with the rest of the team this week, NFL Network reported Monday.

Williams missed mandatory minicamp in June, and his absence is expected to extend well into training camp, per the report.

“This could take awhile before Trent Williams is back in Washington, if at all,” NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo said on Training Camp Live. “It just really seems like an open-ended thing right now.”

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that Williams’ motivations are two-fold, relating to concerns with the team’s medical staff after a tumor scare earlier this offseason and also to his contract, for which he wants at least an “alteration.”

–Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has not ruled out a holdout during training camp as the sides explore the possibility of a new contract, NFL Network reported.

Rapoport said “all options are on the table,” and the fourth-year running back “still has not yet firmly decided whether or not he is going to hold out.”

Elliott still has two years remaining on his rookie contract. He will make $3.85 million in the upcoming season, with an option in 2020 for $9.1 million.

–The NFL suspended Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed six games without pay for violating the personal conduct policy.

Reed was disciplined for an incident in Bellevue, Wash., on April 27, 2017, according to multiple reports. A woman filed a complaint of assault against Reed. Prosecutors investigated and declined to press charges.

NFL Network reported that Reed’s appeal of the suspension was denied on Friday.

–New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman has a finger injury and will be out about three weeks, ESPN reported.

Over the weekend, Edelman had a brace on his left thumb while working at his youth camp, and whether the thumb was broken wasn’t clear. The Patriots open training camp later this week in Foxborough, Mass.

–New Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers will start training camp on the shelf with a shoulder injury, per multiple reports.

Flowers, who signed a five-year, $90 million contract in March, had what was described as a minor shoulder procedure after the Super Bowl in February.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Damon Harrison told NFL Network he’ll report for training camp after sitting out offseason workouts in search of a new deal. Detroit opens training camp on Thursday.

–The Atlanta Falcons lost defensive tackle Michael Bennett and safety J.J. Wilcox to serious injuries on the first day of training camp, according to multiple reports from NFL Network.

Bennett is out indefinitely with a broken ankle, while Wilcox tore his ACL and will miss the 2019 season, NFL Network reported. Both players were competing for rotational roles on defense.

–DJ Durkin, ousted as Maryland’s football coach after the death of one of his players, is working as a training camp assistant coach with the Falcons.

Durkin was one of four camp-only coaches announced by head coach Dan Quinn, ESPN reported.

–The New York Jets signed former Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin to fill in for the recently suspended Chris Herndon.

Earlier this month, the NFL suspended Herndon for the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He pleaded guilty in January to a 2018 DWI charge.

Meanwhile, Jets safety Marcus Maye was placed on the PUP list as he continues to recover from shoulder and thumb injuries from last season.

–The Tennessee Titans placed defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, tight end Jonnu Smith and kicker Ryan Succop on the PUP list.

Casey and Smith are still recovering from late-season knee injuries — Casey reportedly had a sprained MCL, while Smith tore his MCL — and Succop missed all offseason work with an undisclosed issue. The team also placed first-rounder Jeffery Simmons, who tore his ACL in February, on the non-football injury list.

–The Buffalo Bills placed running back Frank Gore on the NFI list and tight end Tyler Kroft on the PUP list.

Gore’s injury is unknown but not believed to be serious. Kroft broke his foot on the first day of OTAs. Both players joined the team in March via free agency.

–Green Bay Packers first-round safety Darnell Savage was placed on the NFI list after having his wisdom teeth pulled, ESPN reported.

–Jacksonville Jaguars undrafted rookie safety Zedrick Woods filed retirement papers with the NFL, The Athletic reported.

Woods is battling turf toe, according to agent Ron Butler. He had surprised teams by running the fastest 40-yard dash (4.29) at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

–The Minnesota Vikings waived running back Roc Thomas and signed guard Tiano Pupungatoa.

Thomas is suspended for the season’s first three games after pleading guilty to a marijuana charge earlier this year.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Redskins’ Williams to hold out of camp

Report: Redskins' Williams to hold out of camp

Report: Redskins’ Williams to hold out of camp

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams is not expected to report to training camp with the rest of the team later this week, NFL Network reported Monday.

Williams missed a mandatory minicamp in June and his absence is expected to extend well into training camp, per the report.

“This could take awhile before Trent Williams is back in Washington, if at all,” NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo said on Training Camp Live. “It just really seems like an open-ended thing right now.”

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that Williams’ motivations are two-fold, relating to concerns with the team’s medical staff after a tumor scare earlier this offseason and also to his contract, for which he wants at least an “alteration.”

Williams had surgery in April to remove a tumor from his scalp, after there were initial concerns that the tumor could be malignant. It was not, and he was expected to recover in time for the regular season, but CBS Sports reported in June that Williams wanted out of Washington because of how the medical staff handled the situation.

Rapoport and Garafolo reported Monday that Williams has since had a second surgery to address a cosmetic issue with the original wound and could still have more operations. That could mean he wouldn’t be cleared to practice anyway, even if present at training camp.

“I know Trent knows how much we need him and want him back,” head coach Jay Gruden told reporters in June. “That’s the only thing I can do from here. As far as what happened with him and the doctors, that’s between he and the doctors, and hopefully we get that cleared up soon.”

As for Williams’ contract, he has two years and $24 million remaining — including base salaries of $11 million in 2019 and $12.5 million in 2020 — on a five-year, $68 million deal signed in 2015. Six offensive tackles have since exceeded Williams’ $13.6 million annual average, led by Oakland’s Trent Brown at $16.5 million.

Williams, who turned 31 on Friday, has reached seven consecutive Pro Bowls. He has been with the Redskins since 2010, when they took him fourth overall in the NFL draft.

Reliable swing tackle Ty Nsekhe left Washington for Buffalo during free agency. Former New York Giants first-round pick Ereck Flowers has been working as the first-team left tackle, and 2018 third-rounder Geron Christian is also competing for the swing tackle job.

–Field Level Media

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Falcons’ Bennett breaks ankle on first day of camp

Falcons' Bennett breaks ankle on first day of camp

Falcons’ Bennett breaks ankle on first day of camp

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Michael Bennett suffered a broken ankle Monday in the first practice of training camp, NFL Network reported.

Bennett, 26, played in two games for the Falcons last season and was expected to compete for a primary role in the defensive-line rotation. He is out indefinitely.

Drafted in the sixth round by Jacksonville in 2015 out of Ohio State, Bennett played in 13 games with the Jaguars as a rookie and appeared in one game in 2017 when he struggled with chest and groin injuries. He also missed the entire 2016 season due to a calf injury.

He has tallied 16 tackles, two tackles for a loss and half a sack in 16 career NFL games.

It is the second major injury to the Falcons’ defensive line. Defensive end Steven Means suffered a torn Achilles tendon during organized team activities in May.

–Field Level Media

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Jets sign former Texans TE Griffin

Jets sign former Texans TE Griffin

The New York Jets

Jets sign former Texans TE Griffin

The New York Jets signed former Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin on Monday to fill in for the recently suspended Chris Herndon.

Earlier this month, the NFL suspended Herndon for the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He pleaded guilty in January to a 2018 DWI charge.

Griffin, 29, caught 136 passes for 1,491 yards and seven touchdowns in 77 games (36 starts) with the Texans from 2013-18.

He made a career-high 11 starts in 2018 and caught 24 passes for 305 yards.

Griffin’s six-year run in Houston ended abruptly in May when he was cut by the Texans after getting arrested in Nashville, Tenn., during the NFL draft. Charges of vandalism for breaking a hotel window and public intoxication were later dismissed.

–Field Level Media

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Lions DE Flowers to PUP, DT Harrison to report

Lions DE Flowers to PUP, DT Harrison to report

Lions DE Flowers to PUP, DT Harrison to report

New Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers will start training camp on the shelf with a shoulder injury, per multiple reports Monday.

On the bright side, the Lions will get back defensive tackle Damon Harrison, who told NFL Network he’ll report for training camp after sitting out offseason workouts in search of a new deal.

Flowers, an end and linebacker in the 3-4 defense, signed as a big-ticket prize in free agency in March. He left the New England Patriots, where he began his career as a protege of current Lions head coach Matt Patricia.

Flowers underwent what was described as a minor shoulder procedure at the end of the 2018 postseason. But starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list could be an ominous, unexpected signal of Flowers’ health. The Detroit Free Press was the first outlet to identify the nature of Flowers’ current injury.

Detroit opens training camp on Thursday.

The Lions spent almost all of last season without their prized pass rusher, Ziggy Ansah, who was playing on the one-year franchise tender but battled shoulder issues all year.

Flowers came in to replace Ansah, signing a five-year, $90 million deal to unite with Patricia. Flowers had 57 tackles for the Patriots last season and a career-best 7 1/2 sacks. He has 164 career tackles and 21 sacks in 46 games (37 starts) over four seasons.

Harrison, 30, was acquired for a fifth-round pick from the New York Giants last October and totaled 50 tackles (five for loss) with 3.5 sacks and seven QB hits in 10 games with the Lions. One of the game’s premier run-stuffers, he earned All-Pro honors in 2016 and hasn’t missed a game since 2012.

The eighth-year veteran has two years and $16.25 million remaining on his contract.

It’s unknown if the Lions’ other prominent offseason holdout, cornerback Darius Slay, also plans to report to training camp. Slay has two years and $23.5 million remaining on his contract.

Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for both Harrison and Slay, reportedly met with the Lions this week.

–Field Level Media

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Jacksonville Jaguars training camp primer

Jacksonville Jaguars training camp primer

New faces: QB Nick Foles,

Jacksonville Jaguars training camp primer

New faces: QB Nick Foles, LB Jake Ryan, DE Josh Allen, OT Jawaan Taylor, WR Chris Conley, WR Terrelle Pryor, TE Geoff Swaim, TE Josh Oliver

They’re gone: DT Malik Jackson, S Tashaun Gipson, LB Telvin Smith (at least for 2019), OT Jermey Parnell, WR Donte Moncrief, QB Blake Bortles, RB Carlos Hyde, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, G Chris Reed

2019 snapshot: The Bortles era is finally over, and Foles will surely provide an upgrade, but that doesn’t make his addition a slam dunk.

The price tag ($22 million annually, up to $25 million annually with incentives) was curiously high considering there was no other apparent suitor. There also isn’t much evidence Foles is a quality starter outside of Philadelphia, where his career rating is 74.2 compared to 93.2 with the Eagles. Pairing with former Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo could help, but the duo seems like an odd fit with Jacksonville’s run-heavy identity.

If Foles isn’t more than an average starter, the Jaguars’ defense must get back near its 2016 form, but the group still has plenty of holes. Jackson (released), Gipson (released) and Smith — who announced he won’t play in 2019 for personal reasons — were all key pieces of the dominant group from two years ago, and none has a proven replacement on the roster. Ryan helps some but isn’t nearly as fast as Smith.

On the plus side, the Jags had a terrific draft, capitalizing on Allen’s slide to No. 7 overall and then scooping up Taylor — considered a top-10 prospect by some — in Round 2. Oliver needs polish but has the talent to thrive as a receiver, and he could see plenty of work at a thin position.

Worth the investment?

–Are the Jaguars closer to their 2017 selves (10-6) than the group that went 5-11 last year? Vegas smartly has the 2019 over/under smack dab in the middle at 7.5.

–Even if you’re a believer in Foles, it’s hard to like him as a longshot MVP at +6600. If you hope to catch lightning in a bottle, you could have Kyler Murray for the same odds or Sam Darnold for better (+7500).

Bottom line: Foles is an upgrade, but he’s far from a savior. Likewise, the Jags should be better, but the difference might be marginal.

–Field Level Media

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Tennessee Titans training camp primer

Tennessee Titans training camp primer

New faces: G Rodger Saffold, WR Adam Humphries, DE Cameron

Tennessee Titans training camp primer

New faces: G Rodger Saffold, WR Adam Humphries, DE Cameron Wake, QB Ryan Tannehill, DT Brent Urban, DT Jeffery Simmons, WR A.J. Brown

They’re gone: OLB Brian Orakpo, OLB Derrick Morgan, S Johnathan Cyprien, DT Bennie Logan, G Josh Kline, TE Luke Stocker, G Quinton Spain, QB Blaine Gabbert

2019 snapshot: A small-market team that hasn’t won double-digit games since 2008, the Titans don’t draw many headlines, but they’ve been perhaps the league’s most aggressive team under GM Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel. For the second consecutive year, they handed out multiple major deals in free agency and then took heavy risks in the draft.

The question is whether that aggression makes sense, especially for two men who learned from the famously patient Patriots.

Saffold (four years, $44 million) and Humphries (four years, $36 million) should both help contract-year QB Marcus Mariota, but neither contract has an easy out if either flops. Tennessee also paid the 37-year-old Wake (three years, $23 million) handsomely, giving the team two undersized starting edge rushers along with Harold Landry.

Brown should contribute early, but his fit is odd — he’s best in the slot, where Humphries thrives and where Corey Davis has flashed at times. Despite adding Brown and Humphries, Tennessee’s offense still lacks perimeter speed. Meanwhile, the Titans’ first-round pick, Simmons, is recovering from a torn ACL and might not play this year, leaving just eight healthy picks from the past two drafts on the roster.

The Titans deserve credit for adding an option at quarterback in Tannehill, who could fill in if Mariota gets hurt or struggles. Still, it seems like they could be shopping for a new QB next spring.

Worth the investment?

–The Titans have reached nine wins in three straight seasons, making the over on their 7.5-win total look very reasonable, especially given Tannehill’s presence as a safety net.

–In a make-or-break year, Vegas appears to be leaning “break” for Mariota. He’s a 100-1 longshot, after entering 2018 with 40-1 odds.

Bottom line: Tennessee made some clear upgrades but took plenty of risks, and the pieces don’t quite seem to fit right. If Mariota doesn’t blossom, serious changes could follow next year.

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars rookie S Woods retires

Jaguars rookie S Woods retires

Jacksonville rookie safety Zedrick Woods filed

Jaguars rookie S Woods retires

Jacksonville rookie safety Zedrick Woods filed retirement papers with the NFL, The Athletic reported Monday.

Woods, who signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent, was dealing with a turf toe injury, according to his agent, Ron Butler.

“It was kind of shocking to me just because I knew how much he was grateful for the opportunity to get a chance to play in Jacksonville and not being too far from home,” Butler told The Athletic of the decision by Woods, who is from Lake City, Fla., about 65 miles west from Jacksonville.

Woods, who turns 22 next month, played college football at Ole Miss and had six interceptions in 47 career games. He surprised NFL teams by running the 40-yard-dash in 4.29 seconds at the NFL Combine.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks DT Reed draws six-game suspension

Seahawks DT Reed draws six-game suspension

Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed

Seahawks DT Reed draws six-game suspension

Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed has been suspended for the six first games of the NFL season without pay for violating the personal conduct policy, the league announced Monday.

Reed was disciplined for an incident in Bellevue, Wash., on April 27, 2017, according to multiple reports. A woman filed a complaint of assault against Reed. Prosecutors investigated and declined to press charges.

The NFL Network reported that Reed’s appeal of the suspension was denied on Friday.

“We are aware of the situation involving Jarran Reed and have followed league and law enforcement protocol since the alleged incident in April of 2017,” the team said in a statement Monday.

Reed posted his own statement on Twitter.

“I apologize to those close to me including my family, the entire Seattle Seahawks organization and fans of the team for putting myself in a position where I could be disciplined by the NFL,” Reed wrote. “While I totally disagree with the decision of the NFL, I still must accept it and take responsibility for the situation. I have learned from this and will do everything I can to make my friends, family, teammates, fans and the Seahawks proud of me moving forward.”

Reed will forfeit approximately $394,000 of his nearly $1.17 million salary in 2019.

The 26-year-old Reed will be eligible to return to the active roster of the Seahawks on Oct. 14, one day after a game against the Cleveland Browns.

Reed had a career-best 10.5 sacks in 16 games last season after having just three in 30 games over his first two NFL seasons.

Reed underwent sports hernia surgery in late April but recovered in time to participate in minicamp drills during the second week of June.

–Field Level Media

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Lions’ $90M man Flowers on PUP

Lions' $90M man Flowers on PUP

New

Lions’ $90M man Flowers on PUP

New Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers will start training camp on the shelf with a shoulder injury, per multiple reports.

Flowers, an end and linebacker in the 3-4 defense, signed as a big-ticket prize in free agency in March. He left the New England Patriots, where he began his career as a protege of current Lions head coach Matt Patricia.

Flowers underwent what was described as a minor shoulder procedure at the end of the 2018 postseason. But starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list could be an ominous, unexpected signal of Flowers’ health. The Detroit Free Press was the first outlet to identify the nature of Flowers’ current injury.

Detroit opens training camp on Thursday.

The Lions spent almost all of last season without their prized pass rusher, Ziggy Ansah, who was playing on the one-year franchise tender but battled shoulder issues all year.

Flowers came in to replace Ansah, signing a five-year, $90 million deal to unite with Patricia. Flowers had 57 tackles for the Patriots last season and a career-best 7 1/2 sacks. He has 164 career tackles and 21 sacks in 46 games (37 starts) over four seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Lowry vaults to No. 17 in world rankings

Lowry vaults to No. 17 in world rankings

Winning his first

Lowry vaults to No. 17 in world rankings

Winning his first major at The Open Championship came with a slew of perks for Ireland’s Shane Lowry, including a 16-spot jump to No. 17 in the official world golf rankings Monday.

Lowry began 2019 ranked No. 75. He has steadily risen throughout the year thanks to at win in Abu Dhabi in January and a string of three consecutive top-10 finishes in stroke play events that included the PGA Championship in May. Lowry entered last week ranked 33rd, but earned 100 ranking points for his triumph at Royal Portrush.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood jumped seven spots to No. 13 with his second-place finish at The Open, while Tony Finau moved up five places to No. 12 with his solo third – Finau’s best career finish in a major.

England’s Lee Westwood was unable to mount a Sunday charge, but he did rise 26 spots to No. 52 by tying for fourth with Brooks Koepka, who strengthened his grip on No. 1. It is the highest ranking for Westwood in the two-year revolving points system.

The top five remained unchanged, with No. 2 Dustin Johnson, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, England’s Justin Rose and Tiger Woods following Koepka. McIlroy and Woods missed the cut at The Open. Italy’s Francesco Molinari leapfrogged Bryson DeChambeau for No. 6, followed by Spain’s Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Jets signing former Texans TE Griffin

Report: Jets signing former Texans TE Griffin

The New York

Report: Jets signing former Texans TE Griffin

The New York Jets are signing former Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin to fill in for the recently suspended Chris Herndon, NFL Network reported Monday.

Earlier this month, the NFL suspended Herndon for the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He pleaded guilty in January to a 2018 DWI charge.

Griffin, 29, caught 136 passes for 1,491 yards and seven touchdowns in 77 games (36 starts) with the Texans from 2013-18.

He made a career-high 11 starts in 2018 and caught 24 passes for 305 yards.

Griffin’s six-year run in Houston ended abruptly in May when he was cut by the Texans after getting arrested in Nashville, Tenn., during the NFL draft. Charges of vandalism for breaking a hotel window and public intoxication were later dismissed.

–Field Level Media

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Pittsburgh Steelers training camp primer

Pittsburgh Steelers training camp primer

New faces: CB Steven Nelson,

Pittsburgh Steelers training camp primer

New faces: CB Steven Nelson, LB Mark Barron, LB Devin Bush, WR Donte Moncrief, WR Diontae Johnson, CB Justin Layne, RB Benny Snell

They’re gone: WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell, OT Marcus Gilbert, TE Jesse James, S Morgan Burnett, LB Jon Bostic

2019 snapshot: There’s no getting around it: The Steelers said goodbye to perhaps the best wide receiver (Brown) and the best running back (Bell) of the past five years. That’s difficult to swallow, but was there anything Pittsburgh could have done differently this offseason?

Bell’s departure was inevitable long ago. Letting him walk also wasn’t the worst idea given the dangers of paying running backs big money. Perhaps Brown’s situation could have been resolved, but the disgruntled wideout appeared determined to barge his way out of Pittsburgh, with no regard for collateral damage. How ugly would it be if he were still on the Steelers’ roster?

Pittsburgh never had the leverage to bring back a big return, but it did get two picks for Brown, one of whom (Johnson) should contribute early. The Steelers found another option at receiver in free agency (Moncrief) and worked to upgrade at linebacker and cornerback in both free agency and the draft. After signing Barron and Nelson, they traded up for Bush, who should step right into Ryan Shazier’s old spot in the middle of the defense. Layne brings lots of talent but has time to develop from the bench.

Pittsburgh also got quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s extension done as he approached a contract year, an inevitable but important move that ensures the Super Bowl window will remain open another few years.

Worth the investment?

At 9.5 wins via PointsBet.com, the Steelers are still expected to be in the mix in the AFC North. How realistic is that future proposition based on the subtractions from the roster? Getting to 8-8 seems a reasonable ask, but 10 wins would be a major achievement for Mike Tomlin’s crew.

Bottom Line: No team in the league lost two more talented players, and Brown and Bell defined Pittsburgh’s offseason, but much of it was out of the Steelers’ hands.

–Field Level Media

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Cleveland Browns training camp primer

Cleveland Browns training camp primer

New faces: WR Odell Beckham Jr., DT Sheldon

Cleveland Browns training camp primer

New faces: WR Odell Beckham Jr., DT Sheldon Richardson, DE Olivier Vernon, RB Kareem Hunt, CB Greedy Williams, S Morgan Burnett, S Eric Murray

They’re gone: G Kevin Zeitler, S Jabrill Peppers, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, QB Tyrod Taylor, LB Jamie Collins, WR Breshad Perriman, TE Darren Fells, OT Desmond Harrison

2019 snapshot: John Dorsey sure isn’t shy about swinging for the fences. With an already impressive roster, the Browns’ GM heaped on more talent this offseason, albeit taking some risks in the process.

How risky those moves prove to be might depend on Dorsey’s first decision, which was to hire Freddie Kitchens as head coach. The former RBs coach and interim offensive coordinator was a somewhat surprising choice, but he provides continuity for second-year QB Baker Mayfield. Now, can Kitchens manage all of Cleveland’s personalities?

Beckham’s talent far outweighs the headaches he creates, and his acquisition could be the single most impactful of the offseason. The compensation (pick Nos. 17 and 95, plus Peppers) was a bargain, and if Beckham and college teammate Jarvis Landry feed off each other, the move will look even better.

Dorsey also added disruption up front by inking Richardson (three years, $37 million) and trading for Vernon, and he nabbed one of the draft’s top cornerbacks in Williams despite losing draft capital in the deal for Beckham.

Trading Zeitler (for Vernon) could hurt the offensive line, but 2018 second-rounder Austin Corbett should be ready to step in at right guard. Trusting Greg Robinson to hold up for a whole season at left tackle is bold, though he performed well in the second half of 2018. Hunt’s addition also was risky, but the payoff could be huge if the Pro Bowl selection can stay on the field.

Worth the investment?

Everyone with a dollar is ready to buy the Browns, but at what cost? They’re no longer a value bet and books are starting to swing the pendulum to reflect the amount of buy-in they’re seeing in Cleveland.

Mayfield remains a decent get in the MVP race, however, at 25-1. Sounds rich, we know, considering his treading into Drew Brees-Matt Ryan territory if the Browns get off to a hot start. That also means he’s presently at value at PointsBet.com. Break it down in the simplest of terms: Quarterbacks win MVP in this league, and if the Browns write the miracle playoff run some think is possible, it’ll be Mayfield playing the role Patrick Mahomes did for the 2018 Kansas City Chiefs.

Bottom Line: It’s hard to argue with adding so much talent. If Kitchens proves to be the right hire, this is a grand slam.

–Field Level Media

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Cincinnati Bengals training camp primer

Cincinnati Bengals training camp primer

New faces: OT Jonah Williams, OG John Miller, CB B.W. Webb, DT

Cincinnati Bengals training camp primer

New faces: OT Jonah Williams, OG John Miller, CB B.W. Webb, DT Kerry Wynn, TE Drew Sample, LB Germaine Pratt

They’re gone: TE Tyler Kroft, LB Vontaze Burfict, DE Michael Johnson, LB Vincent Rey, OT Cedric Ogbuehi

2019 snapshot: One of the league’s most conservative teams, the Bengals went off the rails — by their standards — in not only firing head coach Marvin Lewis but hiring a young, offensive mind from outside the organization in Zac Taylor. Lewis’ tenure probably should have ended much earlier, but the team deserves credit for passing on familiar-but-lackluster options and swinging big with Taylor instead.

Other than the coaching change, the Bengals were predictably unflashy. They re-signed a trio of average-at-best players (OT Bobby Hart, LB Preston Brown, TE C.J. Uzomah) to surprisingly lucrative three-year deals (each more than $16 million), then gave similar contracts to Miller and Webb, both of whom were below-average starters with their former teams.

Cincinnati managed to keep a few talented players on short one-year contracts in TE Tyler Eifert ($4 million) and CB Darqueze Dennard ($4.5 million) and released Burfict, which was overdue.

A meat-and-potatoes draft added some nice pieces — including the potential long-term left tackle in Williams — but taking a blocking tight end (Sample) in Round 2 after re-signing two players at the position was awfully rich. Pratt (third round) could break into a mediocre linebacking corps, but he remains raw. It’s also worth wondering if the Bengals should have drafted a quarterback such as Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock, as they might not get a similar chance again soon.

Worth the investment?

Losing rookie tackle Williams to a season-ending injury is a major hit for the MVP chances of running back Joe Mixon and quarterback Andy Dalton, who were well down the board to begin with. In a division defined by defense, not having a blindside protector for Dalton is a big variable to factor into any futures.

That includes the W/L number, which checks in at a modest 6.

Bottom Line: Cincinnati finally made a much-needed coaching overhaul, but the roster doesn’t look much better elsewhere. Plenty of work remains, and getting to 6-10 will not be easy.

–Field Level Media

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Baltimore Ravens training camp primer

Baltimore Ravens training camp primer

New faces: S Earl Thomas

Baltimore Ravens training camp primer

New faces: S Earl Thomas III, RB Mark Ingram II, WR Marquise Brown, OLB Jaylon Ferguson, WR Miles Boykin, OLB Pernell McPhee, OLB Shane Ray, CB Justin Bethel, WR Seth Roberts

They’re gone: LB C.J. Mosley, S Eric Weddle, OLB Terrell Suggs, QB Joe Flacco, OLB Za’Darius Smith, WR John Brown, DT Brent Urban, WR Michael Crabtree, RB Alex Collins

2019 snapshot: Even for a team used to letting talent walk in favor of compensatory picks, the Ravens had to be a little alarmed by how many big names departed this offseason. Obviously Flacco’s departure was inevitable — and he fetched a fourth-round pick despite the Ravens having no leverage — and Weddle was released.

But Baltimore likely didn’t expect Mosely, Suggs and Smith all to leave in free agency. Mosely’s departure was particularly concerning as (along with Weddle) a defensive leader and communicator, and no apparent replacement was added at inside linebacker.

New GM Eric DeCosta countered with the terrific signing of Thomas, who is still near his physical prime at age 30 but also brings the leadership, versatility and ability to disguise that Weddle offered. On the edge, DeCosta didn’t overpay for replacements, instead trying cheap one-year fliers on Ray and McPhee and drafting Ferguson, the NCAA’s all-time sack leader, in Round 3.

On offense, Baltimore made a concerted effort to build around QB Lamar Jackson, promoting Greg Roman to offensive coordinator, re-signing sturdy blocking TE Nick Boyle and adding speed (Brown and Boykin) at wideout. Mark Ingram (three years, $15 million) cost a bit much, but he should be very productive with Jackson drawing so much attention. More competition at center would have been nice, but the O-line remains solid.

Worth the investment?

At 100/1, Lamar Jackson is not a heavy favorite to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award. But considering his short resume as a pro and peers in the same range – including Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack – more than a few dollars are like to land on No. 8 this summer.

Bottom Line: Some of the Ravens’ plans were likely shaken by free agency, but they still managed to build around Jackson, which was priority No. 1.

–Field Level Media

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Detroit Lions training camp primer

Detroit Lions training camp primer

New faces: DE Trey Flowers, CB Justin

Detroit Lions training camp primer

New faces: DE Trey Flowers, CB Justin Coleman, TE Jesse James, WR Danny Amendola, RB C.J. Anderson, TE T.J. Hockenson, LB Jahlani Tavai, CB Rashaan Melvin, WR Jermaine Kearse, G Oday Aboushi, S Will Harris

They’re gone: DE Ezekiel Ansah, G T.J. Lang, S Glover Quin, RB LeGarrette Blount, CB Nevin Lawson, DT Kerry Hyder, FB Nick Bellore, TE Luke Willson, TE Levine Toilolo, TE Michael Roberts

2019 snapshot: The Lions didn’t hold back in free agency, handing massive contracts to Flowers (five years, $90 million) and Coleman (four years, $36 million) plus an ample deal for James (four years, $22.6 million) and a one-year flier on Amendola ($4.5 million). Each could prove to be upgrades, but it’s hard to imagine any outperforming his contract, so there isn’t much upside.

The rest of Detroit’s offseason was about reshaping the offense, as coordinator Jim Bob Cooter was allowed to walk, with Darrell Bevell arriving to replace him. Matt Patricia and Bevell have been adamant about building through the running game, an uncommon approach in today’s NFL, but Hockenson will certainly help the cause. He should contribute from Day 1 as a receiver and blocker, giving Detroit schematic flexibility and options in the run game and off play-action. Anderson should join Kerryon Johnson to form a quality backfield duo.

Even if offensive issues are solved, the defense still has holes. Tavai is the sort of multi-faceted linebacker Patricia loves, but the Lions don’t have any true edge pass rusher (Flowers is best off working inside). Another outside cornerback must step up, especially if Darius Slay’s holdout for a new contract continues. Damon Harrison is also holding out for a new deal, and the Lions’ run defense was a mess before he arrived last year.

Worth the investment?

–The Lions were big spenders in the offseason, but will they be able to cash out in the win column? Oddsmakers aren’t so sure. The consensus over-under win total is 7 after going 6-10 a year ago.

Bottom Line: The Lions added talent and have a clear plan, but a run-first offense and free agent spending sprees rarely breed success in today’s NFL.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Camp holdout still possible for Cowboys’ Elliott

Report: Camp holdout still possible for Cowboys' Elliott

Report: Camp holdout still possible for Cowboys’ Elliott

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has not ruled out a holdout during training camp as the sides explore the possibility of a new contract, NFL Network reported.

“From what I’m told, as recently as yesterday, all options are still on the table,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said on “Good Morning Football.” The fourth-year running back “still has not yet firmly decided whether or not he is going to hold out. If he does not hold out, that means contract talks are going in the right direction or at least he trusts the Cowboys to get a deal done.”

Elliott, who was the fourth overall selection by the Cowboys in the 2016 NFL Draft, still has two years remaining on his rookie contract. He will make $3.85 million in the upcoming season, with an option in 2020 for $9.01 million.

The Ohio State product rushed for an NFL-leading 1,434 yards in 2018, and his 95.6 yards per game also led the league. He had six rushing touchdowns and three receiving.

Elliott, 24, has started all 40 games he has played in over the past three seasons, He has rushed for 4,048 yards on 868 carries with 28 touchdowns. He also has 135 receptions for 1,199 yards and six more TDs.

–Field Level Media

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Ex-Maryland coach Durkin assisting at Falcons camp

Ex-Maryland coach Durkin assisting at Falcons camp

DJ Durkin, ousted

Ex-Maryland coach Durkin assisting at Falcons camp

DJ Durkin, ousted as Maryland’s football coach after the death of one of his players, is working as a training camp assistant coach with the Atlanta Falcons.

Durkin was one of four camp-only coaches announced by head coach Dan Quinn, ESPN reported Monday.

Maryland fired Durkin after an investigation into circumstances surrounding tackle Jordan McNair, who fell ill during a practice on May 29, 2018, and later died. Durkin was put on administrative leave on Aug. 11, 2018, following an ESPN report that described the culture in the Terrapins program as “toxic.” He was reinstated in late October and fired the following day amid an uproar.

Last December, Alabama coach Nick Saban brought in Durkin as a short-term consultant for the Crimson Tide.

While he called McNair’s death an “unfortunate situation, of course,” Quinn defended his decision.

“I know DJ firsthand, about what he is as a coach,” Quinn said. “I’ve coached with him. And I know what his character is. We did all of our due diligence of calling everybody at Maryland and had our own follow-up to there. So what I would know is, in the past, we’ve had Ron Wolf come to help me with another set of eyes. Last year, Darrell Bevell coming into the same role.

“I think it’s a huge advantage that you can have somebody of respect and can look at some certain things to help your team in the evaluation.”

Durkin, 41, was an assistant coach at Florida for five seasons. In two of those seasons, Quinn was the defensive coordinator for the Gators.

“It’s not that unusual for me to have people come to be a part of our program and add value to it for a smaller period of time,” Quinn said. “I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again in the future.”

–Field Level Media

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Chicago Bears training camp primer

Chicago Bears training camp primer

New faces: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, CB Buster Skrine, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, RB

Chicago Bears training camp primer

New faces: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, CB Buster Skrine, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, RB Mike Davis, RB David Montgomery, WR Riley Ridley, G Ted Larsen

They’re gone: S Adrian Amos, CB Bryce Callahan, RB Jordan Howard, WR Josh Bellamy, G Eric Kush, TE Dion Sims, WR Kevin White, K Cody Parkey

2019 snapshot: Virtually any defense that reaches the heights Chicago’s did in 2018 is bound to regress some, but the Bears might be in for a larger slide than most. It’s not the team’s fault that Vic Fangio is gone, but Chicago could have promoted Ed Donatell to D-coordinator to maintain Fangio’s scheme. Instead, Donatell followed Fangio to Denver, and Chuck Pagano took over the Bears’ D. Pagano has ample talent at his disposal, but his defenses in Indianapolis were disappointing. Chicago also lost talent in the secondary, with Clinton-Dix and Skrine replacing Amos and Callahan, respectively, albeit at friendlier prices.

The Bears put most of their efforts into supplementing the offense, as Davis and Montgomery should be an upgrade to Howard in the backfield, and Patterson and Ridley complement a talented receiving corps. The O-line remains solid, with James Daniels moving to center (Cody Whitehair will bump out to guard) and RT Bobby Massie retained (four years, $32 million), giving quarterback Mitchell Trubisky no excuses.

Chicago’s kicking situation remains concerning, as Parkey was released one year into a big contract, and no obvious replacement emerged in the months that followed. Of the series of offseason additions at kickers, several already have been released, and those who made it through the summer did so despite missing multiple kicks at OTAs and minicamp.

Worth the investment?

–Trubisky started near 100-1 at some books in the MVP derby. Perhaps he’s worthy of that billing, but investors drove him up to 25-1 and even higher before training camp began.

Bottom Line: Without much cap space or a first- or second-round pick, the Bears didn’t have much room to upgrade, but they could have done more to fight defensive regression.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Patriots’ Edelman (thumb) to miss about three weeks

Report: Patriots' Edelman (thumb) to miss about three weeks

New England Patriots

Report: Patriots’ Edelman (thumb) to miss about three weeks

New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman has a finger injury and will be out about three weeks, ESPN reported on Monday.

Over the weekend, Edelman had a brace on his left thumb while working at his youth camp, and whether the thumb was broken wasn’t clear.

The Patriots open training camp later this week in Foxborough, Mass.

With Edelman on the sideline, quarterback Tom Brady will be without his favorite target, having already lost tight end Rob Gronkowski to retirement. He also will be missing receiver Josh Gordon, who is suspended, and offensive weapons Sony Michel and Demaryius Thomas, who are on the physically unable to perform list as camp opens.

“I’m extremely excited for the new year. This is a new team,” Edelman said at his camp, per ESPN. “With training camp coming up, this is kind of like when school is back in session. We had summer break. You get to see all the fellas and this is where you learn your team, learn each other and become accountable for each other, and create a consistency together.

“This is like the beginning shape form of your team, these next few weeks. It’s a crucial point. You put a lot of hard work in during the spring and it’s the next step until you’re playing with other teams. ”

Edelman is entering his 10th NFL season, all with New England. In 2018, he caught 74 passes for 850 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games. He served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Edelman had 10 receptions for 141 yards and was named MVP of New England’s 13-3 win against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3.

In May, the Patriots finalized a two-year extension worth $21 million with the 33-year-old receiver.

–Field Level Media

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Green Bay Packers training camp primer

Green Bay Packers training camp primer

New faces: OLB Za'Darius Smith, OLB Preston Smith,

Green Bay Packers training camp primer

New faces: OLB Za’Darius Smith, OLB Preston Smith, S Adrian Amos, OL Billy Turner, DE/OLB Rashan Gary, S Darnell Savage, OL Elgton Jenkins, TE Jace Sternberger, TE Michael Roberts

They’re gone: OLB Clay Matthews, WR Randall Cobb, OLB Nick Perry, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, LB Jake Ryan, CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Davon House, OL Byron Bell

2019 snapshot: In one of the more active Packers offseasons in recent memory, an interesting dichotomy emerged: The offense was overhauled schematically under a new head coach, but almost all personnel resources were devoted to the defense. Clearly, GM Brian Gutekunst is confident that Matt LaFleur — who has worked on the staffs of Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan– can find the right recipe for Aaron Rodgers & Co., as he added just two linemen (Turner and Jenkins) and a mid-round flex tight end (Sternberger) on offense.

On defense, Gutekunst backed up the Brinks truck (combined $118 million over four years) for the Smiths (unrelated) to replace Matthews and Perry (both released) on the edge. He also took mega-talent Rashan Gary — who could line up all over the place in Mike Pettine’s defense — with the 12th overall pick in the draft and made major investments at safety in Amos (four years, $37 million) and Savage (trade up to 21st overall). That gives Pettine plenty of toys to play with in a shape-shifting defense, but it all must come together.

Glowing offseason reports about wide receiver Marquez-Valdes Scantling soothed concerns about a young group of skill-position players, but it was still surprising to see no wideout drafted. Sternberger is ready to contribute as a receiver right away, but he’ll have to fight Jimmy Graham for snaps. Of course, how Rodgers takes to LaFleur’s offense will supersede all else.

Worth the investment?

–Not even the most optimistic Packers backers can be certain of the direction this team will take amid a major offseason change. But Aaron Rodgers, when healthy, is bound to get you to .500. Could he have 12 wins in him? The win/loss over-under line consensus is 9.5.

Bottom Line: Green Bay was probably too aggressive in spots, and a few holes remain. But if LaFleur unleashes Rodgers, this team will be back in Super Bowl contention.

–Field Level Media

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Minnesota Vikings training camp primer

Minnesota Vikings training camp primer

New faces: G Josh Kline, DT Shamar

Minnesota Vikings training camp primer

New faces: G Josh Kline, DT Shamar Stephen, C Garrett Bradbury, TE Irv Smith Jr., RB Alexander Mattison, G Dru Samia

They’re gone: DT Sheldon Richardson, RB Latavius Murray, OT Mike Remmers, S Andrew Sendejo, C Nick Easton, S George Iloka, QB Trevor Siemian, CB/PR Marcus Sherels

2019 snapshot: Priority No. 1 for Minnesota was to get the offense back on track, with a clear emphasis on coaching and the offensive line.

Gary Kubiak arrived to assist offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, and the duo should be good for QB Kirk Cousins. Perhaps more important, Bradbury (first round) and Kline (free agency) will help shore up the interior and get the outside-zone running game going, opening up a wealth of play-action designs. With Riley Reiff and Brian O’Neil — who impressed as a raw rookie in 2018 — on the outside, the front five should be strong enough.

The rest of the Vikings’ offseason was about balancing salaries within a small window of cap room, but the results were mixed. The departures of Murray, Remmers, Sendejo and Easton were expected, but Richardson (who got three years and $37 million in Cleveland) might have been a better investment than LB Anthony Barr, who was retained for five years, $67.5 million, especially when considering positional value.

Likewise, TE Kyle Rudolph’s extension (four years, $36 million) seemed far too rich. Rudolph isn’t much more than average as a receiver or a blocker, and Smith appeared to be the obvious long-term starter. On the bright side, Minnesota got Everson Griffen to accept a pay cut and extended Adam Thielen at a reasonable price (four years, $64.2 million), a nice reward for an undrafted, homegrown talent.

Worth the investment?

–At 50-1, Kirk Cousins might look like a bargain buy for a playoff team. His poor showings in big games – and vs. teams with winning records – would seem to tell another story. Cousins could be a good bet if he puts up great numbers for a division winner, but his reputation will not be easily overcome.

Bottom Line: The deals for Barr and Rudolph felt like luxuries, but the Vikings improved up front without destroying their cap. Not bad.

–Field Level Media

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Buffalo Bills training camp primer

Buffalo Bills training camp primer

New faces: C Mitch Morse, DT Ed Oliver, WR

Buffalo Bills training camp primer

New faces: C Mitch Morse, DT Ed Oliver, WR John Brown, WR Cole Beasley, OL Cody Ford, OG Spencer Long, OG Quinton Spain, OT Ty Nsekhe, OT LaAdrian Waddle, TE Tyler Kroft, TE Lee Smith, TE Dawson Knox, RB T.J. Yeldon, RB Frank Gore, RB Devin Singletary, CB Kevin Johnson, CB E.J. Gaines, WR Andre Roberts

They’re gone: DT Kyle Williams, TE Charles Clay, OG John Miller, OT Jordan Mills, WR Deonte Thompson

2019 snapshot: Mostly patient a year ago, the Bills went crazy in free agency this offseason, adding both quality and quantity with all kinds of deals.

Morse isn’t worth the largest contract in NFL history for a center (four years, $44.5 million), but GM Brandon Beane found bargains on the O-line in Nsekhe (two years, $10 million), Spain (one year, $2 million) and Waddle (one year, $2 million). After jumping up in Round 2 to nab Ford — who could play tackle or guard — the Bills should have a much improved front five with four new starters.

Buffalo found QB Josh Allen more weapons in Brown, Beasley, Kroft and Knox, a third-rounder with athletic upside. Each were reasonable investments, especially because they’ll help determine just how quickly Allen is progressing. Answers were also added to replace the aging LeSean McCoy, with Singletary (third round) drafted and Gore and Yeldon added in free agency.

Despite extending contract-year DE Jerry Hughes, the Bills didn’t add an edge rusher to complement him, which they might regret unless Shaq Lawson takes a major step. On the bright side, though, they managed to get Oliver at No. 9 overall. Not nearly the polished pass rusher Aaron Donald was coming out of Pitt, Oliver nonetheless has similar athletic gifts and will be disruptive (if not a finisher) from Day 1.

Worth the investment?

–Two years removed from a 9-7 campaign and a playoff appearance, the Bills are certainly capable of going over seven wins. But Allen must develop as a passer, making this a bit of a risky play.

–Only one team, the 2008 Dolphins, has taken the AFC East from the New England Patriots since 2003, and that was with Tom Brady missing virtually all season. Even at +700, the Bills’ odds to win their first division title since 1995 probably aren’t worth taking.

Bottom line: The spending spree looked a little wild, but the Bills structured contracts smartly and didn’t take on much risk. They also managed to address most major holes, with plenty of upside in the draft class.

–Field Level Media

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp primer

Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp primer

New faces: DT Ndamukong Suh, LB Deone Bucannon, OLB Shaquil Barrett, LB Devin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp primer

New faces: DT Ndamukong Suh, LB Deone Bucannon, OLB Shaquil Barrett, LB Devin White, WR Breshad Perriman, QB Blaine Gabbert, P Bradley Pinion, CB Sean Bunting, CB Jamel Dean, K Matt Gay

They’re gone: DT Gerald McCoy, LB Kwon Alexander, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Adam Humphries, CB Brent Grimes, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, DE Vinny Curry

2019 snapshot: A disappointing team in an extremely difficult division, the Bucs might have made their biggest upgrades this offseason in the coaching staff.

Replacing Dirk Koetter is Bruce Arians, fresh off a one-year retirement. He brought many of the key pieces from his successful staff in Arizona, including D-coordinator Todd Bowles, offensive minds Harold Goodwin and Byron Leftwich, and special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong.

Elsewhere, GM Jason Licht’s approach raised more question marks. LT Donovan Smith’s extension (three years, $41.3 million) was reasonable in an out-of-control O-line market, as was letting Alexander depart for San Francisco at a ridiculous price (four years, $54 million). But while White (fifth overall pick) should thrive in place of Alexander, he represented an exorbitant investment at a position of marginal value, while the Bucs spent fewer resources on the edge. Barrett was a bargain, but there are few other dangerous rushers after Jason Pierre-Paul’s neck injury.

Releasing McCoy and signing Suh while saving $3.75 million seems like a win, but Suh isn’t necessarily the better player, and he’s certainly not the leader McCoy was. Licht also invested heavily at both kicker (Gay) — a few years after his disastrous trade-up for Roberto Aguayo — and punter (Pinion), positions that rarely justify any sort of significant price tag or draft capital.

Worth the investment?

–The Bucs went 5-11 last season and shouldn’t be any worse, so going over their 6.5 over/under win total is certainly achievable, as long as Jameis Winston clicks with Arians.

–Speaking of Winston, his MVP odds (+10000) are tied for 37th-best in the NFL, behind several wideouts and even defensive players. Given Arians’ history — he helped Carson Palmer finish as an MVP runner-up in 2015 — that could be one of the best longshots on the board.

Bottom line: Bringing in Arians gives Winston his best shot at success, but it’s hard to get on board with the rest of what Licht did. The GM’s job could well depend on this season.

–Field Level Media

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Carolina Panthers training camp primer

Carolina Panthers training camp primer

New faces: C Matt Paradis, DT Gerald McCoy, DE/OLB Bruce Irvin,

Carolina Panthers training camp primer

New faces: C Matt Paradis, DT Gerald McCoy, DE/OLB Bruce Irvin, WR Chris Hogan, DE/OLB Brian Burns, OT Greg Little, QB Will Grier

They’re gone: C Ryan Kalil, DE Julius Peppers, LB Thomas Davis, WR Devin Funchess, OT Matt Kalil, OT Chris Clark, S Mike Adams

2019 snapshot: A year after changing ownership, the Panthers faced significant turnover brought on by a number of different factors. Franchise icons in Ryan Kalil and Peppers retired, while a third (Davis) was allowed to walk in free agency.

Paradis should be a nice replacement for Kalil — as long as his surgically repaired ankle holds up — and McCoy will help replace some of Peppers’ leadership while Burns and Irvin try to rev up the edge rush. The unit will look different for another reason as well, with Ron Rivera and D-coordinator Eric Washington employing more 3-4 looks.

In addition to Paradis up front, the Panthers added Little (second round), retained Daryl Williams on a friendly deal (one year, $6 million) and released Matt Kalil. Little is raw and has had his motor questioned, while Williams has struggled to stay healthy, but between the pair and Taylor Moton, the tackle position should be OK.

That’s important because Cam Newton is still working his way back from shoulder surgery, though he progressed to throwing a regulation football during OTAs. Grier’s selection raised concerns about Newton, but all signs point to the former MVP being ready for the regular season. Before he was hurt in 2018, he thrived under new O-coordinator Norv Turner, so optimism is warranted if Newton is indeed healthy.

Worth the investment?

–Newton’s injury overshadowed how excellent the Panthers were when he was fully healthy last season. The possibility that Carolina returns to that form makes the over on a 7.5-win total extremely enticing.

–Even if Newton is fully healthy, what are the odds he’ll return to his 2015 MVP form? Bovada has them at +4000, on par with two Rams (Jared Goff and Aaron Donald), which feels a bit risky.

Bottom line: Carolina did well to address its biggest holes, though most of its moves still carried risk. The Panthers could thrive if everything clicks as planned.

–Field Level Media

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New Orleans Saints training camp primer

New Orleans Saints training camp primer

New faces: TE

New Orleans Saints training camp primer

New faces: TE Jared Cook, C Nick Easton, DT Malcom Brown, RB Latavius Murray, DT Mario Edwards, C Erik McCoy, S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, CB/PR Marcus Sherels

They’re gone: C Max Unger, RB Mark Ingram, DE Alex Okafor, TE Benjamin Watson, S Kurt Coleman, LB Manti Te’o

2019 snapshot: After years of borrowing against the future to upgrade the present, the Saints certainly weren’t going to stop this offseason, not with Drew Brees at age 40 and the team still firmly on the doorstep of another Super Bowl appearance. For most other teams, that would be irresponsible roster management, but it’s hard to fault the Saints for trying to maximize the window to win a championship.

In free agency, New Orleans nabbed Cook, the sort of receiving tight end Brees hasn’t had since Jimmy Graham was traded to Seattle. They also added a possible replacement for Unger in Easton, found insurance for injured DT Sheldon Rankins by signing Brown and Edwards, and replaced the departed Ingram with a slightly cheaper deal for Murray. New Orleans also retained Teddy Bridgewater for just $7.25 million, keeping alive the possibility he could be Brees’ successor.

Absent their first-round pick because of last year’s trade-up for Marcus Davenport, the Saints traded up again this year for McCoy (second round) and Gardner-Johnson (fourth), leaving little else in their draft class. McCoy will battle Easton for the job to replace Unger.

New Orleans still has work to do, as Michael Thomas needs an extension entering the final year of his rookie deal. On the plus side, the Saints found room for a Cameron Jordan extension (three years, $52.5 million).

Worth the investment?

–Only the Patriots (11) have a higher over/under than the Saints (10.5). New Orleans could still hit, but 11 wins is a high bar for any team to reach.

–It’s remarkable that Brees, a 12-time Pro Bowler in 18 seasons, still has not won an MVP award. He has the fourth-best odds this season (+1000), but his decline down the stretch last season makes that a risky play.

Our Take: They’ll eventually have to pay off all their debts, but the Saints set themselves up for a run at Super Bowl LIV.

–Field Level Media

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New York Jets training camp primer

New York Jets training camp primer

New York Jets training camp primer

New faces: RB Le’Veon Bell, LB C.J. Mosley, DT Quinnen Williams, WR Jamison Crowder, OG Kelechi Osemele, CB Brian Poole, QB Trevor Siemian, WR Josh Bellamy, WR Deonte Thompson, K Chandler Catanzaro, OLB Jachai Polite

They’re gone: OG James Carpenter, C Spencer Long, CB Buster Skrine, DL Mike Pennel, WR Andre Roberts, K Jason Myers, S Terrence Brooks, WR Jermaine Kearse, RB Isaiah Crowell

2019 snapshot: Few teams in the league had a more complicated offseason than the Jets, who apparently disliked their own moves from this spring so much that the man who made them is now gone. Former GM Mike Maccagnan was fired in May, with Joe Douglas hired in June.

That came after Maccagnan hired Adam Gase as head coach, led a free agent spending spree for Bell, Mosely and Crowder, and ran the draft room as normal in April. Did the team finally get it right by hiring Douglas? Or does that bizarre sequence of events simply show a dysfunctional organization?

Maccagnan’s moves certainly raised a few eyebrows. He made outlandish investments at two of the league’s least valuable positions in running back (Bell; four years, $52 million) and inside linebacker (Mosley; five years, $85 million), then added an expensive slot wideout (Crowder; three years, $28.5 million) just a few months after extending Quincy Enunwa, who predominantly plays the slot.

The draft was more encouraging, as Williams was clearly the best player available, even at a crowded position with Leonard Williams, Steve McLendon and newly re-signed Henry Anderson. Third-round picks Polite and OT Chuma Edoga each bring some upside (albeit amid character concerns), and TE Trevon Wesco (fourth round) should be a nice Swiss-army knife as a tight end/H-back.

Worth the investment?

–The Jets managed just four wins a year ago, but with several major talent upgrades, they could reasonably flirt with the postseason. It’s not hard to see them topping their 7-win over/under.

–As far as MVP longshots go, you could do far worse than Sam Darnold (+7500), who came on strong to finish his rookie season and now has Adam Gase as his head coach.

Bottom line: It was probably the right move to fire Maccagnan, but it’s hard to justify the process that led up to it or the timing. Still, if Williams stars like expected — he’ll need to sign his contract and report to camp first — this team looks much more talented.

–Field Level Media

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New England Patriots training camp primer

New England Patriots training camp primer

New faces: DE Michael Bennett, LB Jamie Collins, WR Demaryius

New England Patriots training camp primer

New faces: DE Michael Bennett, LB Jamie Collins, WR Demaryius Thomas, TE Benjamin Watson, TE Matt LaCosse, WR N’Keal Harry, WR Dontrelle Inman, DL Mike Pennel, RB Brandon Bolden, S Terrence Brooks, CB Joejuan Williams, DE Chase Winovich, RB Damien Harris

They’re gone: TE Rob Gronkowski, DE Trey Flowers, OT Trent Brown, DT Malcom Brown, WR Chris Hogan, DE Adrian Clayborn, TE Dwayne Allen, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, CB Eric Rowe, OT LaAdrian Waddle

2019 snapshot: Another offseason, another talent exodus in New England.

Given the Patriots just won the Super Bowl, nobody should be panicking, but Gronkowski, Flowers and Trent Brown will be very tough to replace. At the same time, Gronk’s retirement was out of the team’s control, and the Patriots certainly would not have paid Flowers (five years, $90 million) or Brown (four years, $66 million) anywhere near the money they landed on the open market.

As usual, the Patriots regrouped and reloaded in a variety of creative ways. Bennett cost only a swap of late-round picks and should step right into Flowers’ role, with inside-outside versatility and pass rush. Collins was brought back for a bargain $2 million after his release in Cleveland, and Watson (one year, $3 million) and LaCosse (two years, $2.8 million) provide cheap options at tight end. Between Thomas, Harry and Inman, the receiving corps should produce a few suitable options.

Some questions remain. Offensive tackle is thin after Brown and Waddle left in free agency, and signee Jared Veldheer decided to retire. The tight end spot lacks a clear answer or upside after Bill Belichick surprisingly didn’t draft one from a quality group of prospects and released Austin Seferian-Jenkins during the offseason program. Even so, Belichick produced an excellent draft class overall, with Williams, Winovich and Harris all expected to contribute early in addition to Harry.

Worth the investment?

–The Patriots have the NFL’s highest over/under win total (11) and the best odds to win Super Bowl LIV (+600). Both figures feel a tad rich, but each could hit if Tom Brady doesn’t fall off a cliff.

–As usual, Brady is among the favorites for MVP, with decent odds at +1400 (surprisingly behind Baker Mayfield at +1100). He needs two more to tie Peyton Manning (five) for most all-time, but the soon-to-be 42-year-old might not get the requisite volume.

Bottom line: The Patriots are clearly less talented overall, but it’s hard to argue with many of their decisions in a vacuum. Until Brady declines, they should remain a juggernaut.

–Field Level Media

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Miami Dolphins training camp primer

Miami Dolphins training camp primer

New faces: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Josh Rosen,

Miami Dolphins training camp primer

New faces: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Josh Rosen, TE Dwayne Allen, DT Christian Wilkins, CB Eric Rowe, OT Jordan Mills, OG Chris Reed, C Michael Deiter

They’re gone: QB Ryan Tannehill, OT Ja’Wuan James, DE Cameron Wake, DE Robert Quinn, OG Josh Sitton, RB Frank Gore, WR Danny Amendola, C Travis Swanson

2019 snapshot: Miami made major changes last spring while touting the importance of culture, but this offseason was even more extreme in that regard, with a complete reset.

GM Chris Grier gained full control of personnel with Mike Tannenbaum gone and brought in head coach Brian Flores, who will run the defense while fellow former Patriot Chad O’Shea coordinates the offense. Jim Caldwell was brought in to be assistant head coach/quarterbacks, but will instead be a consultant after a leave of absence for medical reasons.

The offense will also have a new leader for the first time since 2012, as Tannehill was dealt, and Fitzpatrick (two years, $11 million) and Rosen (acquired for second- and fifth-round picks) were brought in. The trade for Rosen is a home run any way you look at it: The Dolphins owe just $6.3 million over three years for the opportunity to see if a top-10 prospect (who was better than his numbers in Arizona) is their long-term answer at QB. If he isn’t, he still brings value as a backup.

The Dolphins were mostly quiet elsewhere, saying goodbye to three key O-linemen and bringing in uninspiring replacements. Mills isn’t nearly at James’ level, and the interior has major concerns even if Deiter (third round) can start right away. Those issues could muddy the evaluation of Rosen.

Worth the investment?

–The Dolphins and Cardinals are tied for the NFL-low over/under win total (five), and Miami’s tanking intentions have been widely reported. That said, Fitzpatrick could get hot and win a few games, and Rosen will be quite motivated. We’d say away from this one.

–For longshot fans out there, how about Miami at +2000 to win the AFC East? Stranger things have happened, like when the 2008 Dolphins — coming off a 1-15 season — claimed the only non-Patriots division title since 2003 despite preseason odds of +4000.

Bottom line: The defense could use more help, and the lack of investment in the O-line is troubling, but Rosen’s arrival is a major boost. Odds are, it won’t lead to many wins in 2019, which might be Miami’s preference, anyway.

–Field Level Media

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Texans’ Watt, Hopkins placed on PUP list

Texans' Watt, Hopkins placed on PUP list

Texans’ Watt, Hopkins placed on PUP list

The Houston Texans placed defensive end J.J. Watt and wideout DeAndre Hopkins on the active/physically unable to perform list on Sunday, indicating both players will sit out practice when training camp begins later this week.

Texans veterans report on Wednesday and begin practicing Thursday. Rookies reported Sunday.

Watt had cleanup surgery on his knee in January after Houston lost in the wild-card playoffs, but there’s no indication his recovery will threaten his regular-season availability.

Hopkins battled a shoulder injury late last season, saying after the playoff loss he tore ligaments “completely off the bone,” but reports at the time said he would not need surgery. He also fought a foot injury, but said in June he expected to be ready for training camp.

Either player can be activated anytime to facilitate a return to practice.

The Texans also placed rookie tight end Kahale Warring on the active/non-football-injury list. Warring’s injury is unknown.

A third-round pick in April, Warring is expected to compete to start for the Texans after promising work in the offseason.

The team did not announce any move regarding wideout Will Fuller, which could be good news. If Fuller is not placed on the PUP list, he would be able to practice immediately after missing all of the team’s offseason work during his recovery from a torn ACL.

–Field Level Media

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Dolphins waive DT Norton, will pay salary

Dolphins waive DT Norton, will pay salary

The Miami Dolphins placed defensive tackle Kendrick

Dolphins waive DT Norton, will pay salary

The Miami Dolphins placed defensive tackle Kendrick Norton — whose left arm was amputated following a car crash earlier this month — on the reserve/non-football-injury list on Sunday, effectively waiving him.

Norton will not count against the 90-man roster, but the team will still pay his $495,000 salary, and his medical bills will be covered by insurance through the NFL and the Dolphins.

The 22-year-old’s NFL career is over after his July 4 accident. He had six surgeries over a two-week span before being discharged from the hospital on Thursday.

Norton, who played at the University of Miami, said several Dolphins teammates and coaches came to see him in the hospital often, and cited first-year head coach Brian Flores as a daily guest to his hospital room.

Norton spent most of the 2018 season on the Panthers’ practice squad after Carolina selected him in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. The Dolphins signed him in December.

Norton was cited with making an improper lane change, per a Florida Highway Patrol report. He suddenly pulled his F-250 truck in front of a Maserati and clipped it, sending his car into a concrete barrier. The other driver was not injured, and the report said drugs or alcohol were not believed to be a factor.

Also on Sunday, the Dolphins placed tight end Dwayne Allen, linebacker Mike Hull and cornerback Cordrea Tankersley on the physically unable to perform list. None of the three can partake in on-field activities at training camp, which starts Thursday, until activated from the PUP list.

The Dolphins also claimed offensive lineman Will Holden off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals and waived cornerback Jamar Summers.

–Field Level Media

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Herman claims Barbasol Championship after Kraft stumbles

Herman claims Barbasol Championship after Kraft stumbles

Jim Herman made two back-nine

Herman claims Barbasol Championship after Kraft stumbles

Jim Herman made two back-nine birdies after a rain delay on Sunday and was rewarded when Kelly Kraft stumbled late, claiming his second career PGA Tour title at the Barbasol Championship in Nicholasville, Ky.

Herman shot 2-under 70 to finish at 26-under 262 at Keene Trace Golf Club, one stroke ahead of Kraft, who bogeyed the par-3 16th and par-4 17th right after taking the solo lead with birdies at 14 and 15.

After a three-putt from 48 feet on 17, Kraft’s 41-foot birdie try at 18 missed. Herman then two-putted from 23 feet, finishing with a tap-in to clinch the victory.

Herman, 41, was limited to nine events in 2018 by a foot injury and missed the cut in 16 of his previous 19 events this year, with no finishes higher than 43rd before Sunday’s victory.

“Obviously the last couple years have been a little lean,” he said afterward on Golf Channel. “A lot of missed cuts, and I never lost hope, but what are you gonna say? This was a great week. I always wanted to win a second one.”

Herman’s previous title came at the Houston Open in 2016. Coincidentally, both of his victories have come two weeks after he played a round with current U.S. President Donald Trump, who Herman said gave him putting advice two weeks ago that helped him this week.

“He’s a busy man, but I think I need to see him again here sometime soon,” Herman said of Trump with a smile. “… He motivates me and puts me in a good spot.”

Both players in the final pairing cooled off after a scorching Saturday, in which Herman shot a 62 and Kraft broke the course record with 61.

Herman was 1 under on the seventh hole when play was stopped due to weather. He then bogeyed No. 9 to fall level with Kraft, who had eagled at the par-5 fifth to get to 1 under on the day. Both players birdied the 11th before Kraft took the outright lead at 14, and both birdied 15 before Kraft’s back-to-back bogeys.

Austria’s Sepp Straka shot a 66 to claim third alone at 23 under, while Australia’s Matt Jones tied the low round of the day with a 63 to tie Austin Cook (70) for fourth.

Scotland’s Martin Laird, who also shot 63, was among three tied for sixth at 21 under.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Woods, McIlroy set for skins game in Japan

Report: Woods, McIlroy set for skins game in Japan

Report: Woods, McIlroy set for skins game in Japan

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will headline a skins game event on Oct. 21 in Japan, a source told ESPN on Sunday.

The skins game will also include Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama in a one-day competition to be held at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Japan, three days before the start of the inaugural Zozo Championship that will be played outside of Tokyo. Woods is expected to compete in that tournament, the first official PGA Tour event in Japan.

The PGA Tour-sanctioned skins game will offer “lucrative prize money,” according to ESPN, although the amount and the structure of the event are still being finalized.

The Skins Game was once an offseason golf staple, held from 1983 to 2008, often around Thanksgiving weekend. The event fizzled from a lack of star power in its final few events.

In a typical skins competition, each hole is assigned a dollar amount, with the prize money rolling over to the next hole if there is no winner.

Woods was a runner-up in the Skins Game in 2001, 2004 and 2005, but he did not play in the competition after that.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Pats’ Michel, Thomas open on PUP

Reports: Pats' Michel, Thomas open on PUP

Reports: Pats’ Michel, Thomas open on PUP

Running back Sony Michel and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas are among six New England Patriots who will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list later this week, multiple outlets reported Sunday.

Michel had a knee scope this offseason but is expected to be ready in time for the regular season. Thomas tore his Achilles on Dec. 23, putting him at risk of missing regular-season games. If he is not activated from the PUP list before Week 1, he would have to miss at least six games.

Avoiding the PUP list is 2018 first-round offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, a good sign as he recovers from a torn Achilles sustained last August. Wynn is the leading candidate to start at left tackle after the departure of Trent Brown via free agency and the retirement of free agent signee Jared Veldheer.

Joining Michel and Thomas on the PUP list, per reports, will be defensive end Deatrich Wise, special-teams ace Nate Ebner, offensive tackle Cole Croston and defensive back Ken Webster.

Rookie offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste, taken in the third round in April, will be placed on the active/non-football-injury list as he continues to recover from pre-draft quad surgery.

Michel, 24, was the Patriots’ second first-round pick in 2018, eight picks after Wynn (23rd overall). He rushed for 931 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie, scoring the only touchdown in the Super Bowl LIII victory.

Thomas, 31, caught 59 passes for 677 yards and five touchdowns between the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans last year, joining Houston via a deal before the trade deadline. He has four Pro Bowl appearances in nine NFL seasons.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Texans place Watt, Hopkins on PUP list

NFL notebook: Texans place Watt, Hopkins on PUP list

NFL notebook: Texans place Watt, Hopkins on PUP list

The Houston Texans placed defensive end J.J. Watt and wideout DeAndre Hopkins on the active/physically unable to perform list on Sunday, indicating both players will sit out practice when training camp begins later this week.

Texans veterans report on Wednesday and begin practicing Thursday. Rookies reported Sunday.

Watt had cleanup surgery on his knee in January after Houston lost in the wild-card playoffs, but there’s no indication his recovery will threaten his regular-season availability.

Hopkins battled a shoulder injury late last season, saying after the playoff loss he tore ligaments “completely off the bone,” but reports at the time said he would not need surgery. He also fought a foot injury, but said in June he expected to be ready for training camp.

–Running back Sony Michel and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas are among six New England Patriots who will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list later this week, multiple outlets reported.

Michel had a knee scope this offseason but is expected to be ready in time for the regular season. Thomas tore his Achilles on Dec. 23, putting him at risk of missing regular-season games. If he is not activated from the PUP list before Week 1, he would have to miss at least six games.

Avoiding the PUP list is 2018 first-round offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, a good sign as he recovers from a torn Achilles sustained last August. Wynn is the leading candidate to start at left tackle after the departure of Trent Brown via free agency and the retirement of free agent signee Jared Veldheer.

–The Miami Dolphins placed defensive tackle Kendrick Norton — whose left arm was amputated following a car crash earlier this month — on the reserve/non-football-injury list, effectively waiving him.

Norton will not count against the 90-man roster, but the team will still pay his $495,000 salary, and his medical bills will be covered by insurance through the NFL and the Dolphins.

The 22-year-old’s NFL career is over after his July 4 accident. He had six surgeries over a two-week span before being discharged from the hospital on Thursday.

–Tight end Trey Burton and wide receiver Anthony Miller are expected to be ready for the start of Chicago Bears training camp this week after both players underwent offseason surgeries, general manager Ryan Pace told reporters.

Burton had sports hernia surgery after missing the Bears’ playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles because of a groin injury.

Miller had surgery on his shoulder after his rookie campaign, during which he hauled in 33 catches for 423 yards and seven touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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Schauffele vents about beef with R&A over driver issue

Schauffele vents about beef with R&A over driver issue

Schauffele vents about beef with R&A over driver issue

Xander Schauffele accused The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of spreading the word that his driver failed random testing this week, leading him to ridicule from his fellow players.

Schauffele disclosed Friday that his Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero driver was non-conforming when it was tested before The Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. At that point, the development still was news to the media and fans. But after he shot a third-round 69 on Saturday, Schauffele took The R&A to task, accusing them of leaking the information to his opponents.

“So The R&A, they pissed me off because they attempted to ruin my image by not keeping this matter private,” he said. “This is me coming out and treating them the exact way they treated me.”

He said he heard heckling, in jest, from a fellow player

“It is an unsettling topic,” Schauffele, 25, said. “I’ve been called a cheater by my fellow opponents. It’s all joking, but when someone yells ‘cheater’ in front of 200 people, to me it’s not going to go down very well.”

Schauffele, a Californian ranked No. 11 in the world, said his was not the only driver to fail random testing, which involved 30 players.

“Other drivers failed,” he said. “… This matter should be private.”

Schauffele said he had no idea his driver was non-conforming when he put it in his bag before heading to Royal Portrush.

“I don’t sit at home and test my driver, you know. To my best belief, I was playing a conforming driver. I think The R&A’s job … well, the PGA Tour takes it up with the manufacturer. Our job as players is to show up to tournaments, put on a show for The R&A and for the Tour and to handle our business. It’s not to make sure our stuff is conforming.”

–Field Level Media

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Lowry cruises to first major win at Open

Lowry cruises to first major win at Open

Lowry cruises to first major win at Open

Shane Lowry recovered from a mid-round stumble to shoot 1-over 72 and finish with a 15-under 269, claiming his first major title at The Open Championship at Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush.

Lowry, from Ireland, entered the day at 16-under par and with a four-shot lead over England’s Tommy Fleetwood.

Playing in blustery weather, Lowry stretched the lead to six strokes early. Three bogeys in four holes around the turn dropped his lead back to four.

Fleetwood’s bid to catch Lowry hit a snag on the 14th hole, when Lowry bogeyed and Fleetwood double-bogeyed. Lowry then birdied No. 15, while Fleetwood shot par, to push his lead back to six with three holes to go.

The pair both shot par over the final three holes to seal Lowry’s victory.

Lowry, 32, held a four-shot lead after 54 holes of the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, but settled for a tie for second after imploding with a final-round 76.

J.B. Holmes, who entered the day alone in third place at 10-under, finished a disastrous 16-over 87 on Sunday to finish in a tie for 67th — ahead of just three players.

American Tony Finau finished third overall at 7-under after shooting even par on Sunday.

Four-time major champion and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka had a chance to finish in the top three, but failed to birdie No. 18 and finished in a tie for fourth place with Britain’s Lee Westwood, who shot a 2-over par 73.

Koepka had top-three finishes in the other three majors this season (T2 Masters, won PGA Championship, and second in the U.S. Open) and was vying to become the first player in the modern era to finish in the top three in all four.

He joins Rickie Fowler, Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods as the only players to finish in the top five at all four majors in a calender year in the modern era.

Fowler, who shot 3-over, finished in a four-way tie for sixth at 5-under with Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton and Danny Willett and with Scot Robert MacIntyre.

Italy’s Francesco Molinari had the round of the day with a 5-under 66, which boosted him 43 spots into a tie for 11th.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Ex-NFL LB Merriman sued for wrongful death

Report: Ex-NFL LB Merriman sued for wrongful death

The parents of a woman who

Report: Ex-NFL LB Merriman sued for wrongful death

The parents of a woman who died of a drug overdose in 2017 have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman, TMZ reported Saturday.

According to TMZ, the suit alleges Merriman drugged and possibly assaulted Kimberly Fattorini, who was a Playboy employee, on the night of a party at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles. Fattorini’s death was ruled accidental and attributed to a combination of alcohol, cocaine and GHB — commonly labeled a date-rape drug — in her system.

Per the report, the suit claims a text message from Fattorini indicates Merriman gave her GHB. The suit goes on to allege that Merriman was with Fattorini, and did not want it known that he was with her, when 911 was called from a friend’s house, where Fattorini was found by first responders “half-naked with her jeans unzipped and unbuttoned.”

The suit also references two alleged text messages, with one of Fattorini’s friends saying, “(sic) Shawn killed her ass, what a [expletive] idiot,” and a promoter from the party replying, “That dumbass been drugging girls for years.”

A representative for Merriman denied the allegations to TMZ, saying neither Merriman nor his attorney “have any knowledge of him being named in any lawsuit.”

“This alleged lawsuit is baseless,” the representative added. “Shawne attended an after party more than two years ago where a young woman unfortunately overdosed.

“…The police thoroughly investigated and found no wrongdoing whatsoever by Shawne. The fact that they are raising this now, two years after the fact, demonstrates the baseless nature of these allegations.”

Merriman, 35, played eight years in the NFL, earning three Pro Bowl selections and one first-team All-Pro selection during six years with the San Diego Chargers. He played two years for the Buffalo Bills from 2011-12 before retiring.

–Field Level Media

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Bucs agree to contract with 1st-round LB White

Bucs agree to contract with 1st-round LB White

The Tampa Bay

Bucs agree to contract with 1st-round LB White

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to a contract with first-round linebacker Devin White on Saturday, a day before the team’s rookies report to training camp.

White was drafted fifth overall in April, slotting his contract value around $29 million over four years, all fully guaranteed, with a signing bonus around $19 million. Like all first-round picks, his deal included a fifth-year team option.

The Bucs’ veterans report to camp on Thursday.

Touted as one of the top off-ball linebacker prospects in recent years, the 21-year-old White is expected to start from Day 1 next to Lavonte David in the middle of new coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3-4 defense. White was a consensus All-American while winning the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker in 2018 at LSU, totaling 123 tackles (12 for loss) three sacks and six pass breakups.

White’s agreement leaves just seven draft picks unsigned across the league, including four first-rounders: defensive end Nick Bosa (No. 2 overall, San Francisco 49ers), defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (No. 3, New York Jets), quarterback Daniel Jones (No. 6, New York Giants) and defensive end Brian Burns (No. 16, Carolina Panthers).

The other three are 49ers’ second-round wide receiver Deebo Samuel, Giants’ third-round outside linebacker Oshane Ximines and Minnesota Vikings’ seventh-round long-snapper Austin Cutting.

–Field Level Media

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