Mayfield, Cleveland face big test with Houston’s pass rush

HOUSTON (AP) — The Cleveland Browns have done a great job of protecting Baker Mayfield recently, and have the longest active streak in the NFL by not allowing a sack in 125 snaps.

Things will get more difficult for the Browns (4-6-1) on Sunday when they visit the Houston Texans (8-3) and their defense led by pass-rushing stars J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Watt is tied for second in the NFL with 11 1/2 sacks and has 19 quarterback hits, and Clowney has seven sacks and 15 quarterback hits.

“I have a job to do and that’s my job to go out there and hopefully end that streak,” Watt said. “They’ve obviously been doing a good job. It’s going to be a good battle.”

Mayfield, who hasn’t been sacked in two games, said he’s watched Watt play since the quarterback was in high school and knows he’ll have to account for him and Clowney on every play.

“I have to get it out very quick,” Mayfield said. “They have two of the best defensive ends in the league. That is not discrediting any of the other guys, but they are talented. The emphasis has to be on getting the ball out, which we have been trying to do these past weeks. We have to keep doing it.”

The Texans know the key to stretching their franchise-record winning streak to nine games will be slowing down Mayfield, the top overall pick in this year’s draft. Mayfield has 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions in eight starts this season and is coming off a season-best four touchdown performance in Cleveland’s 35-20 win at Cincinnati last week.

“Baker’s a winner,” Houston coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s a competitor, very accurate, has a great instinct for the game, excellent ability to keep plays alive. I can just tell you we hold him in very high regard.”

While Houston attempts to contain Mayfield, the Browns will try and limit the Texans’ young quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is also coming off a good game. Watson threw two touchdown passes and ran for a career-high 70 yards and a score in a 34-17 win over Tennessee on Monday.

Cleveland interim coach Gregg Williams has been impressed with Watson’s improvement in his second season after playing just seven games as a rookie before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

“I think the game’s slowing down for him,” Williams said. “You can see that he’s more relaxed. He never did show any stress or panic, but you can see he’s more comfortable in what he’s doing … you can see as the season’s gone on, each week he’s more and more comfortable with how he’s playing physically (and) mentally.”

Some things to look for when the Browns visit the Texans:

RUNNING WILD

The Texans are averaging the fourth-most yards rushing a game in the NFL after running for a franchise-record 281 yards on Monday night. Lamar Miller led the way with 162 yards rushing and a 97-yard touchdown against the Titans. The 27-year-old Miller is having a solid season after being slowed by minor injuries last year. He has three 100-yard rushing games after not rushing for more than 75 yards in a game last season.

“(Miller) is hitting the hole and he is hitting it fast and violent, and he is breaking arm tackles,” Browns linebacker Joe Schobert said. “There are linebackers and D-line are in the holes and just trying to reach out trying to bring him down. He is running through it, and you see he has the speed to take it all the way to the house like we saw the other day.”

ROAD WOES

Cleveland’s win at Cincinnati last week snapped a 25-game road losing streak and was its first victory away from Cleveland since Oct. 11, 2015. Now the Browns will try to win consecutive road games in a season for the first time since they beat San Francisco and Pittsburgh on Sept. 21 and Oct. 5, 2003.

While the Browns have been terrible on the road, they haven’t been much better at home. Sunday’s victory marked the first time they’d won two straight games overall since 2014, when they won three in a row.

QB REUNION

Once foes, Watson and Mayfield are now friends.

The quarterbacks will have an on-field reunion Sunday, meeting for the first time since the 2016 Orange Bowl when Watson led Clemson to a 37-17 win over Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners. Watson and Mayfield are part of the NFL’s next wave of star quarterbacks, and the pair already shares a mutual respect.

“He’s going to have a bright future, a bright career, win a lot of games, win championships and do a lot of things for himself and that organization,” Watson said of Mayfield. “I’m a big Baker fan and everything that he has been doing for a long time. It’s going to be very exciting to see him pregame and compete against him. I’ll talk to him later this week and probably jersey swap with him.”

The Browns passed on a chance to draft Watson in 2017. But if they had taken him, Mayfield would be elsewhere. As he develops, Cleveland’s rookie QB has been impressed with what Watson has already accomplished.

“Deshaun is an incredible quarterback, incredible athlete, a great leader,” Mayfield said. “He’s been playing at a very high level. He’s a huge reason why they’ve won eight in a row. It’s always great to play great competition. You always look forward to that.”

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AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed to this report.

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Reports: Chiefs agree to deal with DE Okafor

Reports: Chiefs agree to deal with DE Okafor

Reports: Chiefs agree to deal with DE Okafor

The Kansas City Chiefs continued to rework their defense as they agreed Thursday to a three-year, $24 million deal with defensive end Alex Okafor, according to multiple reports.

A six-year veteran who played the last two seasons in New Orleans, Okafor arrives on the heels of the Chiefs also adding safety Tyrann Mathieu, whose deal was officially signed Thursday.

Kansas City opened up cap space recently with the release of linebacker Justin Houston and defensive back Eric Berry. The Chiefs also traded franchise-tagged pass rusher Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers, citing a poor fit in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense.

Okafor, 28, had four sacks, nine QB hits and 36 tackles last season for the Saints, who advanced to the NFC Championship Game. He started all 16 games in 2018, the first time in his career he has played a full season.

In 68 career NFL games with the Arizona Cardinals and Saints, the former 2013 fourth-round pick out of Texas has 22 sacks, 48 QB hits, 156 tackles and nine passes defensed. He had career highs of eight sacks and 13 QB hits in 2014 with the Arizona Cardinals.

–Field Level Media

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Saints re-sign Bridgewater, add DT Brown

Saints re-sign Bridgewater, add DT Brown

Quarterback

Saints re-sign Bridgewater, add DT Brown

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has agreed to re-sign with the New Orleans Saints rather than join the Miami Dolphins, according to multiple reports on Thursday.

Bridgewater acknowledged the decision on Twitter, posting a photo of himself in his Saints uniform with the caption, “Run it back Turbo.”

According to multiple reports, Bridgewater will sign a one-year deal worth $7.25 million, with incentives that can push the value as high as $12.5 million.

Bridgewater, 26, visited with the Dolphins on Wednesday evening but did not come away with a contract.

NFL Network reported after Monday’s free agent negotiating window opened that Bridgewater would return to New Orleans, but multiple reports on Wednesday said the decision was not final, and that the Miami native could opt for his hometown Dolphins if they offered more money. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Wednesday that speculation linking Saints head coach Sean Payton to the Dallas Cowboys’ job in 2020 was factoring into Bridgewater’s decision.

After flirting with Miami, Bridgewater will remain the Saints’ backup and potential heir apparent to 40-year-old Drew Brees, whose contract was restructured Thursday to create more cap room. Brees is under contract through 2019, though he has said he would like to play further into his 40s.

Bridgewater went 14 for 23 for 118 yards, a touchdown and an interception in limited action last season, but he impressed in the preseason for the New York Jets, prompting the Saints to trade a third-round pick for him in August. The former first-round pick has started just one game since suffering a devastating knee injury just before the 2016 season opener.

The Saints also signed former New England Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown to a three-year contract on Thursday.

According to multiple reports, the deal is worth $5 million annually.

Brown, 25, was the Patriots’ first-round pick in 2015 and started 51 of 60 games over four seasons while shining in run defense, but his fifth-year option was declined. He had no sacks and just one QB hit last year while making a career-low 39 tackles, but he has 8.5 sacks, 16 QB hits and 186 tackles in his career.

–Field Level Media

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Patriots sign five players, including WR Ellington

Patriots sign five players, including WR Ellington

Patriots sign five players, including WR Ellington

The New England Patriots added pieces to their roster on Thursday, signing five players.

Defensive tackle Mike Pennel signed a two-year deal, his agent confirmed. Tight end Matt LaCosse, who visited the Patriots on Thursday, also signed a two-year contract, this one worth as much as $4.8 million, ESPN’s Mike Reiss said.

Wide receivers Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris also are joining the team, according to multiple outlets. Ellington’s deal is for one year, and no terms were reported or announced for either receiver.

Safety Terrence Brooks, also a special teams standout, is moving to New England from the New York Jets on a two-year deal, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.

Pennel, 27, is a five-year NFL veteran who spent the past two seasons with the Jets, before they declined his 2019 option in February. In 32 games (10 starts) in that span, he made 62 tackles and had three quarterback hits. He can help to fill the vacancy created when Malcom Brown departed for New Orleans.

The 26-year-old LaCosse is entering his fourth season. With Denver last year, he played in 15 games, making 24 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos declined to tender LaCosse, who was a restricted free agent, earlier this week.

Ellington split time last season between the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions. In seven games (three starts), the 27-year-old had 31 receptions for 224 yards and a touchdown.

Harris, 26, played for the Washington Redskins for three seasons before they declined his restricted free agent tender this week. In that time, he appeared in 28 games (seven starts), catching 40 passes for 432 yards and a touchdown. He also filled in as a punt returner in 2018.

Brooks, 27, has played for the Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles and the Jets during his five-year career. In 65 total games, he has 43 tackles, three interceptions, eight pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

–Field Level Media

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NFL transactions: Bridgewater re-signs with Saints

NFL transactions: Bridgewater re-signs with Saints

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater

NFL transactions: Bridgewater re-signs with Saints

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater agreed to re-sign with the New Orleans Saints rather than join the Miami Dolphins, according to multiple reports on Thursday.

Bridgewater, who acknowledged the decision on Twitter, reportedly will receive a one-year deal worth $7.25 million, with incentives that can push the value as high as $12.5 million. He visited the Dolphins on Wednesday.

The Saints also restructured Drew Brees’ contract to free up $10.8 million in cap space and signed former New England Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown. According to multiple reports, Brown’s deal is worth $5 million annually.

–The New York Giants agreed to a four-year, $37.5 million deal, $23 million of which is fully guaranteed, with wideout Golden Tate, according to multiple reports.

Tate, who acknowledged the signing on Twitter, will pick up at least some of the slack after wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns this week. Tate, 30, caught 74 passes for 795 yards and four touchdowns for the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles last season.

The Giants also added outside linebacker Markus Golden on a one-year deal, according to multiple reports, reuniting him with former coordinator James Bettcher. Golden had 12.5 sacks under Bettcher with the Arizona Cardinals in 2016.

–Trey Flowers put pen to paper to join the Detroit Lions on a $90 million contract, officially becoming the fifth-highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

The former Patriots defensive end, who aligned at six different positions for at least 15 snaps last season in New England, was a coveted chess piece for Matt Patricia’s defense in Detroit. Patricia used to coach Flowers in New England. Flowers racked up 21 sacks and 59 QB hits over the past three seasons. He received a $28 million signing bonus.

The Lions also signed safety Andrew Adams to a one-year deal after the Bucs declined to tender a contract to the restricted free agent.

–The Seattle Seahawks re-signed linebacker K.J. Wright and guard D.J. Fluker while adding guard Mike Iupati.

Wright’s deal is for two years and $15.5 million, according to NFL Network. Fluker’s deal is for two years and $9 million per NFL.com, while Iupati’s deal is for one year.

–The Oakland Raiders released wide receiver Jordy Nelson and quarterback AJ McCarron.

The Raiders gave Nelson a $3.6 million bonus on Dec. 28, which was earlier than required, for cap purposes. Head coach Jon Gruden said at the time regarding Nelson, “Yeah, he’ll be back.”

Nelson earned just under $11 million for one year, with the team saving $3.5 million with his release. The Raiders will save $5 million by releasing McCarron, who was acquired for a fifth-round pick from Buffalo in September.

–The Minnesota Vikings agreed to a restructured contract with defensive end Everson Griffen, general manager Rick Spielman confirmed, hours before his $10.9 million salary for 2019 would have become guaranteed.

According to NFL Network, Griffen instead will make $8 million in 2019, with the potential to opt out of his deal if he hits certain performance marks.

–The Kansas City Chiefs signed former Saints defensive end Alex Okafor.

Contract terms were not disclosed, but multiple reports said the deal was for three years and $24 million.

–Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix signed a one-year deal worth a reported $3.5 million with the Chicago Bears.

NFL Network reported Clinton-Dix turned down more money to play in Chicago with fellow Alabama safety Eddie Jackson.

–The Carolina Panthers released left tackle Matt Kalil with a post-June 1 designation.

The Charlotte Observer first reported the move. Using the delayed designation saves the Panthers more than $7 million under the salary cap this year.

–The San Francisco 49ers signed former Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett to a one-year contract. Multiple outlets report the deal is worth $3.6 million.

Verrett, 27, has played in just five games over the past three seasons and just 25 through five years, but he reached the Pro Bowl in 2015 with the then-San Diego Chargers.

The 49ers also signed former Eagles wideout Jordan Matthews (one-year deal) and former Panthers linebacker David Mayo (two years) and released linebacker Brock Coyle, who announced his retirement due to a compression fracture in his back sustained last season. The team will also re-sign safety Antone Exum on a one-year deal worth $895,000, per multiple reports.

–The Jets officially signed and introduced running back Le’Veon Bell, a few hours after releasing incumbent starter Isaiah Crowell. They also re-signed nose tackle Steve McLendon and officially confirmed the re-signings of offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison and cornerback Darryl Roberts.

The New York Daily News reported McLendon’s deal is for one year and $2.5 million, with an additional $1 million in incentives.

The Jets also signed cornerback Brian Poole to a one-year, $3.5 million deal, per multiple reports. The Atlanta Falcons surprisingly did not tender the restricted free agent after he broke up 20 passes in 47 games (21 starts) over the past three seasons.

–The Patriots signed defensive tackle Mike Pennel (two-year deal), tight end Matt LaCosse (two years, $4.8 million), wide receivers Bruce Ellington (one year) and Maurice Harris (not reported) and safety Terrence Brooks (two years), according to several reports.

Pennel and Brooks are former Jets.

–The Cincinnati Bengals signed former Giants cornerback B.W. Webb to a three-year contract. The deal reportedly is worth $13 million.

–The Pittsburgh Steelers signed former Jaguars wide receiver Donte Moncrief to a two-year deal and re-signed wideout Eli Rogers and defensive tackle Dan McCullers.

–The Dallas Cowboys re-signed wideout Tavon Austin and added former Texans defensive lineman Christian Covington, both on one-year deals.

–The Falcons signed tight end Luke Stocker on a two-year contract and running back Kenjon Barner on a one-year deal.

–The Arizona Cardinals are expected to sign former Bears first-round wideout Kevin White, per NFL Network, and former Denver Broncos guard Max Garcia, per his agent.

–The Cleveland Browns signed former Bears offensive lineman Eric Kush, who started seven games last season.

–The Philadelphia Eagles signed former Steelers linebacker L.J. Fort to a three-year deal worth a reported, $5.6 million.

–Field Level Media

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Browns RB Hunt suspended eight games

Browns RB Hunt suspended eight games

Cleveland

Browns RB Hunt suspended eight games

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt was suspended for the first eight games of the 2018 season.

Hunt was on the commissioner’s exempt list since Nov. 30 during the NFL’s investigation into a physical altercation captured by an Ohio hotel surveillance system in which Hunt shoved to the ground and kicked a woman.

Hunt’s agent, Dan Saffron, said there will be no appeal in a released statement in response to the announcement of the discipline.

“PFS Agency stands behind our client, Kareem Hunt, in his decision to accept the suspension handed down by the NFL today,” Saffron said.

The NFL said in a statement Hunt’s ban is the result of two separate incidents.

“Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns was notified today that he has been suspended without pay for the Browns’ first eight regular season games for violations of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy in connection with physical altercations at his residence in Cleveland last February and at a resort in Ohio last June. Hunt was placed on the Commissioner Exempt list on November 30 and was released by his former club, the Kansas City Chiefs, that same day. The findings followed a detailed investigation by the NFL, which included reviewing available law enforcement records, video and electronic communications, interviews with numerous witnesses, and multiple interviews with Hunt.

“Hunt has advised the league office that he accepts responsibility for his conduct and the discipline that has been imposed. He has committed to take advantage of available resources to help him grow personally and as a member of the Cleveland community, and to live up to his obligations as an NFL player. The eight-game suspension will take effect as of the final roster reduction on August 31. Hunt will be eligible to play in the Browns’ ninth regular season game.”

When the video surfaced, Hunt was released by the Chiefs. The Browns signed Hunt to a one-year contract in February after general manager John Dorsey — who drafted Hunt as GM of the Chiefs — and owner Jimmy Haslam reviewed the situation and discussed appropriate steps toward contrition with Hunt.

“We had done our research,” Dorsey said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We thought at the appropriate time with all the information we did have, how truly remorseful he was and … knowing when he comes here there are no guarantees, he’s going to earn your respect with his actions. Right now, I feel very comfortable with the signing.

“Deep down, if you really sit down and engage with him, he has a really good heart. The act he did last year — it was egregious. We all know that. … He’s showing through his actions, not his words, how remorseful he is.”

Hunt is not permitted to be with the Browns during the suspension, but can participate in training camp and preseason games.

ESPN reported Hunt will forfeit $303,529 of his $645,000 base salary. He is scheduled to be a restricted free agent in March 2019.

“He’s got a lot of work to do,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said in Indianapolis, “between now and when that second chance comes. Right now, our job is to support Kareem and help him grow as a person.”

–Field Level Media

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Titans releasing veteran G Kline

Titans releasing veteran G Kline

The Tennessee Titans are releasing right guard Josh Kline, one

Titans releasing veteran G Kline

The Tennessee Titans are releasing right guard Josh Kline, one year after signing him to a four-year, $26 million contract extension.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the 29-year-old veteran declined to take a pay cut. Releasing him leaves a $3.5 million dead cap hit this season.

Kline started all 16 games last season and 46 of the Titans’ 48 games from 2016-18. He spent his first three seasons with the New England Patriots.

–Field Level Media

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Pats to release DE Clayborn, clear $4M in cap space

Pats to release DE Clayborn, clear $4M in cap space

Pats to release DE Clayborn, clear $4M in cap space

New England is releasing defensive end Adrian Clayborn, a move that clears about $4 million in cap space for the defending champion Patriots.

Clayborn, 30, broke the news Friday morning on Twitter and thanked the Patriots for granting his release.

“I’m ready for this next chapter,” he said.

Clayborn was due to count $5.94 million against the cap and New England will have $2 million in dead money with this move.

Clayborn, who signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Patriots last March, tallied 11 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 14 games in 2018.

Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in 2011, Clayborn played four seasons with the Buccaneers and three with the Atlanta Falcons before joining New England.

In 95 career games, he has 32.5 sacks, 178 tackles and eight forced fumbles.

–Field Level Media

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Bengals sign G Miller for 3 years, reported $16.5M

Bengals sign G Miller for 3 years, reported $16.5M

The

Bengals sign G Miller for 3 years, reported $16.5M

The Cincinnati Bengals are signing free agent guard John Miller to a three-year, $16.5 million contract, according to multiple reports Friday.

Miller, 25, was Buffalo’s third-round pick in 2015 and started 47 games at right guard for the Bills over the past four seasons.

Miller ranked fourth on the Bills with 883 offensive snaps in 15 starts last season.

Miller visited Thursday with the Bengals. He will be reunited on the offensive line with former Buffalo teammate Cordy Glenn, a tackle who joined Cincinnati in a trade last March.

Cincinnati also brought former Browns and Patriots defensive tackle Danny Shelton in for a visit, according to ESPN.

The 25-year-old run-stopper was drafted 12th overall by Cleveland in 2015 and traded to New England for a swap of third- and fifth-round picks last March. He is a free agent after his fifth-year option was declined.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs agree to deal with DE Okafor

Chiefs agree to deal with DE Okafor

Chiefs agree to deal with DE Okafor

The Kansas City Chiefs continued to rework their defense as they signed defensive end Alex Okafor, the team announced on Thursday.

Contract terms were not disclosed, but multiple reports said the deal was for three years and $24 million.

A six-year veteran who played the last two seasons in New Orleans, Okafor arrives on the heels of the Chiefs also adding safety Tyrann Mathieu, whose deal was officially signed Thursday.

Kansas City opened up cap space recently with the release of linebacker Justin Houston and defensive back Eric Berry. The Chiefs also traded franchise-tagged pass rusher Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers, citing a poor fit in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense.

Okafor, 28, had four sacks, nine QB hits and 36 tackles last season for the Saints, who advanced to the NFC championship game. He started all 16 games in 2018, the first time in his career he has played a full season.

In 68 career NFL games with the Arizona Cardinals and Saints, the former 2013 fourth-round pick out of Texas has 22 sacks, 48 QB hits, 156 tackles and nine passes defensed. He had career highs of eight sacks and 13 QB hits in 2014 with the Arizona Cardinals.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Bengals signing G Miller for 3 years, $16.5M

Reports: Bengals signing G Miller for 3 years, $16.5M

The

Reports: Bengals signing G Miller for 3 years, $16.5M

The Cincinnati Bengals are signing free agent guard John Miller to a three-year, $16.5 million contract, according to multiple reports Friday.

Miller, 25, was Buffalo’s third-round pick in 2015 and started 47 games at right guard for the Bills over the past four seasons.

Miller ranked fourth on the Bills with 883 offensive snaps in 15 starts last season.

Miller visited Thursday with the Bengals. He will be reunited on the offensive line with former Buffalo teammate Cordy Glenn, a tackle who joined Cincinnati in a trade last March.

–Field Level Media

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Raiders will play in Oakland in 2019

Raiders will play in Oakland in 2019

The

Raiders will play in Oakland in 2019

The Raiders will remain in Oakland for the 2019 season.

The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority voted unanimously Friday to approve a new stadium lease with the Raiders, who are scheduled to relocate to Las Vegas in 2020.

The Raiders will pay $7.5 million to play at the Coliseum in 2019 and have a $10.5 million option to remain there in 2020, an insurance plan in case of construction delays in Nevada.

The team’s $1.8 billion, 65,000-seat facility in Las Vegas is scheduled to be finished by July 31, 2020.

The Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors still need to approve the deal, but that is considered a formality.

Team owner Mark Davis had explored other locations in the Bay Area, including the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium and the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park.

The Raiders will play seven games in Oakland in 2019, with an eighth “home” game scheduled against the Chicago Bears in London.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins sign CB Rodgers-Cromartie

Redskins sign CB Rodgers-Cromartie

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has come out of retirement

Redskins sign CB Rodgers-Cromartie

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has come out of retirement to sign with the Washington Redskins, the team announced Friday.

Contract terms were not announced.

The No. 16 overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2008 NFL Draft, Rodgers-Cromartie has played in 160 regular-season games (121 starts).

Following his stint with the Cardinals (2008-10), he played for Philadelphia (2011-12), Denver (2013), the New York Giants (2014-17) and Oakland (2018).

Rodgers-Cromartie played in seven games with the Raiders, then abruptly retired in October, announcing it on Instagram. But earlier this month, he said he wanted to return to football.

He turns 33 next month.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Rodgers-Cromartie has 451 tackles to go with 30 interceptions for 535 yards.

In Washington, he’ll be reunited for his former Giants teammate, safety Landon Collins, who signed a six-year, $84 million contract this week.

–Field Level Media

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Titans acquire Dolphins QB Tannehill, release Gabbert

Titans acquire Dolphins QB Tannehill, release Gabbert

The

Titans acquire Dolphins QB Tannehill, release Gabbert

The Miami Dolphins traded quarterback Ryan Tannehill to the Titans on Friday, receiving a 2020 fourth-round pick and 2019 seventh-rounder while also sending a 2019 sixth-rounder to Tennessee.

Tannehill restructured his existing contract and will have a fully guaranteed one-year, $7 million deal with the Titans, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, $5 million of which will be paid by the Dolphins. The value could climb to $12 million with performance incentives.

The QB was previously due a base salary of $18.75 million in 2019.

Tannehill, 30, started 11 games in 2018 and completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,979 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He missed five games with an injured throwing shoulder.

To make room for Tannehill, the Titans released quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The Dolphins made the move without a proven quarterback on the roster to replace him, having failed to sign free agents Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) or Tyrod Taylor (Chargers). Luke Falk and Jake Rudock are the only QBs on the Miami roster. Falk has never played in an NFL game and Rudock has thrown five passes in three games, including one interception.

Miami made Tannehill the eighth overall pick in 2012, but the Dolphins reached the playoffs only one time in his six seasons.

Tannehill leaves the Dolphins with a 42-46 record. He ranks third in franchise history in passing yards (20,434) and touchdown passes (123).

The Titans now have an insurance policy for Mariota. The 25-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner missed two starts last season because of a nerve injury that affected his throwing shoulder.

Mariota has a 27-28 record in four seasons since Tennessee picked him second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Dolphins trade QB Tannehill to Titans

Reports: Dolphins trade QB Tannehill to Titans

The

Reports: Dolphins trade QB Tannehill to Titans

The Miami Dolphins reportedly have traded quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee, where he will back up Titans starter Marcus Mariota.

The Dolphins will receive a seventh-round pick in 2019 and a fourth-rounder in 2020, with the Titans also receiving Miami’s sixth-round pick in 2019, according to NFL Network.

Tannehill will sign a fully guaranteed one-year, $7 million deal with the Titans, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. The value could climb to $12 million with performance incentives.

He would have been due a base salary of $18.75 million. The Dolphins will have $13.4 million dead salary cap space with the trade.

Tannehill, 30, started 11 games in 2018 and completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,979 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He missed five games with an injured throwing shoulder.

The Dolphins made the move without a proven quarterback on the roster to replace him, having failed to sign free agents Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) or Tyrod Taylor (Chargers). Luke Falk and Jake Rudock are the only QBs on the Miami roster. Falk has never played in an NFL game and Rudock has thrown five passes in three games, including one interception.

Miami made Tannehill the eighth overall pick in 2012, but the Dolphins reached the playoffs only one time in his six seasons.

Tannehill leaves the Dolphins with a 42-46 record. He ranks third in franchise history in passing yards (20,434) and touchdown passes (123).

The Titans now have an insurance policy for Mariota. The 25-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner missed two starts last season because of a nerve injury that affected his throwing shoulder.

Mariota has a 27-28 record in four seasons since Tennessee picked him second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Rams’ strength coach charged with sexual battery

Report: Rams' strength coach charged with sexual battery

Los Angeles Rams strength

Report: Rams’ strength coach charged with sexual battery

Los Angeles Rams strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath reportedly entered a not guilty plea Friday to charges of misdemeanor sexual battery in Ventura County, Calif.

KNX 1070 Newsradio reported that Rath’s attorney, Vicki Podberesky, entered the plea on his behalf and said her client would go to trial to fight the charges if necessary.

The alleged incident took place in June, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. Rath was not arrested until Jan. 15.

Deputy District Attorney Erik Nasarenko asked the sheriff’s department to conduct an additional investigation before deciding to charge Rath with three counts of misdemeanor sexual battery, according to KNX 1070.

The Rams issued a statement: “We are aware of the charges. We take allegations very seriously. Once the charges were filed, we decided Ted would take a leave of absence from the team as the matter works its way through the justice system.”

Podberesky issued the following statement on behalf of Rath:

“Mr. Rath takes these allegations very seriously. Ted is a man who has led a law abiding life. He is a husband, a father and a dedicated family man. He has the utmost respect for women and would never intentionally act in a manner that was demeaning or otherwise inappropriate. We intend to defend this matter to the fullest extent possible in a court of law, and we believe that after there has been a full vetting of the facts of this case Mr. Rath will be shown to be not guilty of these charges.”

Rath is perhaps best known as the Rams’ “get-back” coach because he helps to keep head coach Sean McVay out of harm’s way on the sidelines.

When Rath was not with the team during the playoffs, including Super Bowl LIII, the Rams told NFL.com he was recovering from a medical procedure.

–Field Level Media

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McIlroy closes strong to pull even with Fleetwood at The Players

McIlroy closes strong to pull even with Fleetwood at The Players

McIlroy closes strong to pull even with Fleetwood at The Players

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy rolled in a 21-foot birdie putt on the famed 17th hole on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on Friday to grab a share of the lead with England’s Tommy Fleetwood at 12 under halfway through The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Fleetwood sat in the clubhouse leading by as many as three shots after posting his 5-under 67 on Friday, only to watch McIlroy eagle the 16th hole en route to posting 5-under 31 on the back nine alone.

Fleetwood, who birdied his final three holes on Thursday, opened with a birdie in the second round. He then holed out for eagle from a green-side bunker on the par-5 second hole and rolled in another birdie on No. 3.

He mixed three more birdies against a pair of bogeys over the final 15 holes to reach the clubhouse at 12-under-par 132 through 36 holes.

“It was a bit tougher (Friday), the greens got a bit crustier there at the end,” Fleetwood told the Golf Channel. “And the course is just firming out a bit now. All in all, very happy.”

McIlroy had a chance to shoot 64 — which would have equaled Jim Furyk for the low round of the tournament — and take the outright lead, but left his birdie attempt on the 18th hole short.

Furyk, who played in the morning wave and had eight birdies and no bogeys, is tied for third place at 9 under along with Brian Harman, England’s Ian Poulter and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer.

“I’ve rolled a couple of nice putts in today,” said Poulter, who chipped in from off the green twice on Friday and has made an average of 100 feet, 11 inches of putts through the first two rounds. “Hit a few decent shots in, where I could take advantage.”

Another shot back at 8 under are Kevin Kisner, Keith Mitchell, Australia’s Jason Day and Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini.

Luke List was in the first group to tee off on No. 1 at 7:40 a.m., and he took advantage of the soft conditions and mild winds. He posted a 5-under 68 in reaching the weekend for the first time in three attempts at The Players, and is part of a group at 7 under that includes top-ranked Dustin Johnson.

“It was pretty benign early, and then the wind began picking up like it does here,” Lust told the Golf Channel. “I think the weekend they can do whatever they want, make it as hard as they want it and make it a challenge for us.

“If you’re playing really well, you can score. But if you get out of position, that’s where you have to be really cautious. If I can just kind of do the same things, I think I can be there on Sunday.”

Tiger Woods also took advantage of the early conditions, teeing off on the back nine and arriving at the 17th hole with three birdies on his card. However, his tee shot rolled off the back left into the water, and Woods put his next shot in the water as well.

Woods wound up carding the first quadruple bogey of his career on the hole. The last player to win a PGA Tour event with a quadruple bogey during the week was Adam Scott at the 2016 Honda Classic.

“I was pretty ticked, no doubt about that,” Woods told reporters. “I was bound and determined to get it all back and get it back to 5 under.”

Woods did finish the day with five birdies in posting a 1-under 71 and is nine shots off the lead at 3 under for the tournament.

“I ended up getting back to 3 (under),” Woods said. “It was a good fight to get it back to that point.”

Fleetwood and McIlroy might prove difficult men to catch over the weekend, although both are chasing something elusive.

McIlroy has finished in the top six in all five of his events this year, but he has not posted a victory since the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Meanwhile, Fleetwood has made a point of playing more big events in the United States, which includes posting six consecutive rounds under par on the Stadium Course.

However, Fleetwood has yet to claim his first victory on U.S. soil.

“It’s tough,” he said of trying to close out a victory. “Late in the afternoon on Saturday you get into the very, very final part of how the golf course is playing.

“It’s tough. I’ve yet to win, but hopefully that’s coming.”

NOTES: Jordan Spieth (1 over) and Phil Mickelson (4 over) were among those to miss the cut. … Rookie Cameron Champ withdrew after two holes Friday due to a back injury. He was 2 over through eight holes after opening with a 78. … “Disappointingly, I had to WD from my first @thePlayersChamp,” Champ tweeted. “I’ve been dealing with some tightness in my back throughout the week and it spasmed up pretty good today. My team and I decided it was best not to take any unnecessary risks. Good luck to the guys this weekend!” … South Korea’s Sungjae Im hit the second hole-in-one of the week, acing the par-3 13th hole from 152 yards. Ryan Moore aced the 17th hole on Thursday. Im would later hit his tee shot on 17 into the water and take a double bogey, ultimately missing the cut. … Wyndam Clark was disqualified after shooting an 80 in Thursday’s opening round but signing for a 79. He was the last player into the field, landing a spot after Pat Perez withdrew due to an Achilles injury.

–Field Level Media

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Vikings retain DE Griffen after restructure

Vikings retain DE Griffen after restructure

The Minnesota Vikings agreed to

Vikings retain DE Griffen after restructure

The Minnesota Vikings agreed to a restructured contract with defensive end Everson Griffen, general manager Rick Spielman confirmed Thursday, hours before his $10.9 million salary for 2019 would have become guaranteed

According to NFL Network, Griffen will instead make $8 million in 2019, with the potential to opt out of his deal if he hits certain performance marks.

Griffen had signed a four-year, $58 million extension in July of 2017 that ran through 2022. The Vikings could have released him outright before his salary became guaranteed on Thursday, which would have saved $10.5 million off the cap with just $1.2 million in dead money.

The 31-year-old finished with 5.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits last season in 11 games (10 starts), missing five games due to mental health issues. Griffen was involved in a series of incidents in September that concerned teammates, team personnel and family members, and he left the team for a month before returning in late October.

Griffen totaled 43.5 sacks and 101 QB hits from 2014-2017 while missing just two games, earning three Pro Bowl nods from 2015-17. A fourth-round pick in 2010, he has 66.5 sacks and 152 QB hits in 132 career games (73 starts) across nine seasons with the Vikings.

–Field Level Media

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Jets release RB Crowell with Bell in tow

Jets release RB Crowell with Bell in tow

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Jets release RB Crowell with Bell in tow

One day after signing Le’Veon Bell to a $52.5 million deal, the New York Jets released incumbent starting running back Isaiah Crowell.

Crowell signed with the Jets in free agency last March after four seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Crowell’s release initiates a $2 million cap hit for 2019.

He had a team-high 143 carries for 685 yards and six touchdowns for the Jets in 2018.

While Bell didn’t play last season, the plan is to keep him on the field as a three-down back in head coach Adam Gase’s system. Bell had 7,996 yards from scrimmage and 42 touchdowns in 62 games with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

–Field Level Media

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Lions welcome DE Flowers with $90M deal

Lions welcome DE Flowers with $90M deal

Lions welcome DE Flowers with $90M deal

Trey Flowers put pen to paper on a $90 million contract Thursday, officially becoming the fifth-highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

The former Patriots defensive end, who aligned at six different positions for at least 15 snaps last season in New England, was a coveted chess piece for Matt Patricia’s defense in Detroit. Patricia coached Flowers as defensive coordinator with the Patriots before he became head coach of the Lions last season.

Flowers racked up 21 sacks and 59 QB hits over the past three seasons. He received a $28 million signing bonus.

At an average of $18 million per season, Flowers’ annual salary exceeds the current number for franchise tagged defensive ends.

Bears linebacker Khalil Mack ($23.5 million), Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ($22.5 million), Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence ($20.6 million) and Broncos linebacker Von Miller ($19.02 million) are scheduled to take home more per season than Flowers.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Saints restructure Brees’ contract, create $11M in cap space

Report: Saints restructure Brees’ contract, create $11M in cap space

Report: Saints restructure Brees’ contract, create $11M in cap space

The New Orleans Saints restructured quarterback Drew Brees’ contract in order to clear up $10.8 million in cap space for this season, NFL Network reported Thursday.

Brees will make $22.7 million in 2019, and the $10.8 million will get deferred to count against the team’s cap in 2020 to the tune of $21.3 million overall, whether the future Hall of Famer is on the team or not.

But it’s a win-now move for the Saints, who are reportedly trying to resign backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and make a play for free agent tight end Jared Cook.

–Field Level Media

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