Winston’s suspension could chart course of Bucs’ season

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — By the time Jameis Winston takes another snap in a NFL game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a better idea of how much the young quarterback’s suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy will impact the team’s playoff hopes.

Opening on the road at New Orleans, then returning home to face defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia and AFC heavyweight Pittsburgh figured to be challenging enough even before Winston was disciplined for touching a female Uber driver inappropriately in 2016.

The Bucs consider themselves fortunate to have Ryan Fitzpatrick, entering his 14th season, filling in.

Nevertheless, facing the Saints, Eagles and Steelers without their starter will put additional pressure on a talented group of receivers and an overhauled defense to carry the team until Winston is eligible to return in Week 4 against the Chicago Bears.

“I don’t want this to be about me,” Winston said on the first day of training camp, the last time he spoke publicly about his suspension. “I want it to be about us getting better and us heading into this season with a mission to go 3-0.”

By all accounts, Winston has done everything the team has asked him to do during camp, accepting working with second- and third-stringers in practice and preseason games while trying to lead from behind the scenes.

“Jameis has been great. There hasn’t been a change with him in terms of the way he’s attacking the game, the way he’s been in the meeting rooms, the amount of time that he’s putting in,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s been awesome.”

The 24-year-old who’s thrown for 11,636 yards, 69 touchdowns and 44 interceptions since entering the league as the first overall pick in the 2015 draft also played well in the preseason, completing 73 percent of his passes with zero turnovers.

“I think performance-wise you would have to give Jameis an ‘A’ for the preseason,” coach Dirk Koetter said.

“I think he handled it well, I think he performed very well and I think he did a really good job of working on things he needed to work on,” the coach added.

“Obviously, we’ve beat (the suspension) enough. The situation is what it is. Wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. We’re going to miss him when he’s gone and we’ll be glad when he gets back.”

Here are some other things to know about the Bucs:

PLAYOFF DROUGHT

The Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. The only team with a longer stretch of futility is Cleveland, which hasn’t earned a berth since 2002. Last year’s 5-11 record was a major disappointment, coming on the heels of a 9-7 finish the previous year. After a 2-1 start, team lost 10 of 13 to sink to the bottom of the NFC South.

WELCOME JPP

Rebuilding the defensive line was a major priority after finishing last in the NFL with 22 sacks and also ranking 32nd in pass defense a year ago. Koetter and general manager Jason Licht bolstered the front by trading for edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul and signing end Vinny Curry and tackles Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein in free agency. The Bucs also drafted tackle Vita Vea in the first round, though a calf injury sidelined him most of training camp.

Pierre-Paul had 58½ sacks in eight seasons with the New York Giants, including 16½ in 2011. The Bucs haven’t had a player with 10 or more in a season since Simeon Rice in 2005.

TALENTED BUNCH

Regardless of who’s at quarterback, the Bucs feel they have as good a collection of receivers as any team in the league. Mike Evans is one of just three players in NFL history — along with A.J. Green and Hall of Famer Randy Moss — to begin a career with four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons receiving. DeSean Jackson, at 31, is still one of the league’s top deep threats, and young receivers Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries have been productive, too. Add tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard to the mix, and there are plenty of options in the passing game. “We can compete with the best of them around the league,” Evans said.

SEEKING BALANCE

Improving the running game has been another point of emphasis. The Bucs ranked 27th among 32 teams a year ago in rushing offense, with Payton Barber leading the way with 423 yards and three touchdowns. It was the fourth time in the past five seasons that Tampa Bay’s leading rusher gained fewer than 600 yards. Barber enters the season as the likely starter, however Ronald Jones II was drafted in the second round and will get an opportunity to make a difference.

CHAMPION’S MENTALITY

The Bucs have missed the playoffs 10 consecutive seasons and haven’t won a postseason game since their 2002 Super Bowl run. Among the new arrivals, though, Pierre-Paul won a NFL title with the Giants and Curry and Allen helped the Eagles win last season’s crown. “My biggest thing I’m telling everyone,” Curry said, “is winning is contagious.”

___

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Reports: Peterson re-signs with Redskins

Reports: Peterson re-signs with Redskins

Reports: Peterson re-signs with Redskins

Veteran running back Adrian Peterson agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal to remain with the Washington Redskins, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

Peterson confirmed the deal in a phone call with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, according to Anderson’s Twitter feed.

“RB Adrian Peterson just called me and told me ‘I am going back to the #Redskins. It will be a 2-year deal. I feel like we made some good moves to get to where we are trying to go,'” Anderson wrote.

Peterson rushed for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games for the Redskins last season after signing late in training camp following Derrius Guice’s torn ACL.

The 1,000-yard campaign was the eighth of Peterson’s career, topped by his memorable 2,097-yard season with the Minnesota Vikings in 2012, when he fell 8 yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s all-time mark set in 1984.

The seven-time Pro Bowler ranks eighth in NFL history with 13,318 rushing yards and would pass three more players — Jerome Bettis (13,662), LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684) and Curtis Martin (14,101) — with another 1,000-yard season.

Peterson is tied with Jim Brown for fifth all-time with 106 career rushing scores. He needs five more to pass Walter Payton for fourth.

–Field Level Media

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Falcons release RT Schraeder

Falcons release RT Schraeder

The Atlanta Falcons released right

Falcons release RT Schraeder

The Atlanta Falcons released right tackle Ryan Schraeder with a post-June 1 designation on Wednesday, in a cost-cutting move.

Schraeder, 30, is coming off a down season and was set to count $7.75 million against the cap in 2019, the third year of a five-year, $31 million extension. Atlanta will save $6.45 million of that figure thanks to the post-June 1 designation, which pushes $2.5 million of dead money into 2020.

Schraeder started 67 consecutive games at right tackle before being benched in Week 13 of last season in favor of Ty Sambrailo. Schraeder finished the year having allowed 6.5 sacks and taken nine penalties in 13 starts, up from three sacks and three penalties in 14 starts in 2017.

Sambrailo received a three-year, $14.25 million extension in February, indicating he will get a chance to start moving forward. The Falcons also have reportedly agreed to deals with free agent guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown, which can become official when the new league year opens Wednesday.

An undrafted rookie out of Valdosta State, Schraeder started 73 of 88 career games for the Falcons over six seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Falcons release RT Schraeder

Reports: Falcons release RT Schraeder

The Atlanta Falcons are

Reports: Falcons release RT Schraeder

The Atlanta Falcons are releasing right tackle Ryan Schraeder, according to multiple reports on Wednesday, in a cost-cutting move.

Schraeder, 30, is coming off a down season and was set to count $7.75 million against the cap in 2019, the third year of a five-year, $31 million extension. Atlanta can save $3.95 million of that by releasing him outright, or $6.45 million by designating him as a post-June 1 cut, which would push $2.5 million of dead money into 2020.

Schraeder started 67 consecutive games at right tackle before being benched in Week 13 of last season in favor of Ty Sambrailo. Schraeder finished the year having allowed 6.5 sacks and taken nine penalties in 13 starts, up from three sacks and three penalties in 14 starts in 2017.

Sambrailo received a three-year, $14.25 million extension in February, indicating he will get a chance to start moving forward. The Falcons also have reportedly agreed to deals with free agent guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown, which can become official when the new league year opens Wednesday.

An undrafted rookie out of Valdosta State, Schraeder started 73 of 88 career games for the Falcons over six seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Take 5: Dark horse bets for The Players Championship

Take 5: Dark horse bets for The Players Championship

Take 5: Dark horse bets for The Players Championship

At around 7,200 yards depending on the day’s setup, TPC Sawgrass is anything but a bomber’s paradise by today’s PGA Tour standards.

The primary reason no one has successfully defended at The Players Championship is that the course favors those who enter the week striking their irons well and displaying a great short game with a steady putter.

The past two champions, Webb Simpson and Si Woo Kim, weren’t on anyone’s radar entering the tournament. But they found their form – and a steely mental demeanor – around the water-laced course.

Kim won by three shots. Simpson by four.

The 2019 Players will be played in March for the first time since 2006. That means TPC Sawgrass will play wetter, and longer, than most in the field have experienced. Here are five dark horse candidates to win the title.

5. Ian Poulter, England (55/1 by sportsbook.ag): Poulter has four top-10s in seven events this year and has made the cut in 12 of 15 appearances at The Players. That includes a pair of runner-up finishes. He’s not overly long, but he’s extremely solid in every other facet of the game, which is exactly what it takes to be successful at TPC Sawgrass. He would be ranked higher on this list, but appeared to be battling his swing a bit during range and practice sessions this week.

4. Sungjae Im, South Korea (100/1): The PGA Tour rookie is up to No. 71 in the world rankings after his tie for third at Bay Hill last week. He was also the overnight leader at The Honda Classic the previous week before fading on the weekend. Im dominated the Web.com Tour last season and has all the tools — if he can handle the pressure of one of the game’s marquee events for four days.

3. Matthew Fitzpatrick, England (66/1): The 24-year-old rose 11 spots to No. 33 in the world following his second place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. He was granted temporary PGA Tour membership through the end of the season on Wednesday. This is only his third start on American soil this year, but Fitzpatrick is a talented young player who posted consecutive top-5s in Asia just a few months ago and enters The Players in good form.

2. Branden Grace, South Africa (150/1): Fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen would be a worthy pick here as well if not for missed cuts at the Genesis Open and Arnold Palmer Invitational. Grace hasn’t played since tying for 33rd at the WGC – Mexico Championship in February, but he did take second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier in the month. He has the bulldog mentality to handle the windy conditions forecasted throughout the tournament and tends to show up on the first page of the leaderboard in big events.

1. Billy Horschel, United States (80/1): The 32-year-old enters with modest recent results — no missed cuts but only one top-30 result in his past four starts. Horschel did finish eighth at Torrey Pines earlier this year and is another player who regularly rises to the occasion. The 2014 FedEx Cup champion came out of virtually nowhere to post three top-3 finishes in last year’s playoffs.

Horschel has tied for 37th and missed the cut in the past two Players, but he also the experience at TPC Sawgrass combined with the mental makeup to be a serious threat come Sunday.

–Derek Harper, Field Level Media

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Browns officially acquire Beckham, Vernon from Giants

Browns officially acquire Beckham, Vernon from Giants

The

Browns officially acquire Beckham, Vernon from Giants

The Cleveland Browns officially announced the acquisition of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on Wednesday, moments after the new league year opened at 4 p.m. ET.

The deal was combined with a previously reported trade that will also send defensive end Olivier Vernon to Cleveland and guard Kevin Zeitler to New York. The Giants will also receive safety Jabrill Peppers and Cleveland’s first-round (17th overall) and third-round (95th overall) draft picks next month.

“It’s a reflection of the direction the organization is headed,” Browns general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “My hat’s off to a lot of people in this organization because we spent countless hours, weeks — I mean, we can go all the way back to December when we began the planning phases of these types of acquisitions. So my hat’s off to a lot of people in the personnel department and the coaching staff. And for ownership for allowing these types of things to happen. It shows you that ownership is committed to winning.

“Then, when you talk about the players. Each of them respectively are very good football players who will come in here and help us achieve our goal, and that’s to be competitive year in and year out in the AFC North. And hopefully, they are some of the pieces that will help us awaken this sleeping giant.”

The trade ended months of speculation that Beckham was on his way out of New York. After signing Beckham to a five-year, $95 million contract last season, the Giants saw their season spiral downward, and rumors of a possible trade did not cease despite general manager Dave Gettleman telling reporters at the combine “We did not sign Odell to trade him.”

Beckham, 26, finished with 77 catches for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns last season. In 59 career games over five seasons, Beckham has 390 catches for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons, but injuries have cost him 16 games the last two seasons.

The Giants will eat $16 million in dead money on their salary cap for the deal, while the Browns have the wideout under contract for five years and $77 million.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs release S Berry, saving $9.55 million

Chiefs release S Berry, saving $9.55 million

The Kansas

Chiefs release S Berry, saving $9.55 million

The Kansas City Chiefs announced the release of longtime safety Eric Berry on Wednesday, shortly after the new league year opened at 4 p.m. ET.

According to Pro Football Talk, the release comes with a post-June 1 designation, which means the Chiefs will save $9.55 million of Berry’s $16.5 million cap figure in 2019, pushing an additional $8 million of dead money into 2020. Without that designation, Kansas City would have absorbed all of the $14.95 million in dead money in 2019.

Berry, 30, signed a record-setting six-year, $78 million extension for a safety in February of 2017, but he has played in just two regular-season games since then. He tore his Achilles in the 2017 season opener and then missed all but two games last season while battling lingering heel pain.

Drafted fifth overall in 2010, Berry has spent nine seasons with the Chiefs, earning five Pro Bowl nods and three first-team All-Pro selections. His 2014 season was ended prematurely after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but he beat the disease and returned in 2015 to author back-to-back All-Pro seasons.

“On behalf of my family and the entire Chiefs organization, I want to thank Eric for his many contributions to the Chiefs over the last nine seasons,” team chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Eric has been a tremendous leader for our football team and an inspiration to so many fans over the years, and we sincerely appreciate all that he has meant to the Chiefs. He will always be an important part of our Chiefs family, and we wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

Kansas City has reportedly agreed to sign former Houston Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year, $42 million deal in free agency, a deal that could be announced later Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs release S Berry, reportedly visiting with Darby

Chiefs release S Berry, reportedly visiting with Darby

The

Chiefs release S Berry, reportedly visiting with Darby

The Kansas City Chiefs announced the release of longtime safety Eric Berry on Wednesday, shortly after the new league year opened at 4 p.m. ET.

According to Pro Football Talk, the release comes with a post-June 1 designation, which means the Chiefs will save $9.55 million of Berry’s $16.5 million cap figure in 2019, pushing an additional $8 million of dead money into 2020. Without that designation, Kansas City would have absorbed all of the $14.95 million in dead money in 2019.

Berry, 30, signed a record-setting six-year, $78 million extension for a safety in February of 2017, but he has played in just two regular-season games since then. He tore his Achilles in the 2017 season opener and then missed all but two games last season while battling lingering heel pain.

Drafted fifth overall in 2010, Berry has spent nine seasons with the Chiefs, earning five Pro Bowl nods and three first-team All-Pro selections. His 2014 season was ended prematurely after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but he beat the disease and returned in 2015 to author back-to-back All-Pro seasons.

“On behalf of my family and the entire Chiefs organization, I want to thank Eric for his many contributions to the Chiefs over the last nine seasons,” team chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Eric has been a tremendous leader for our football team and an inspiration to so many fans over the years, and we sincerely appreciate all that he has meant to the Chiefs. He will always be an important part of our Chiefs family, and we wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

Kansas City has reportedly agreed to sign former Houston Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year, $42 million deal in free agency, a deal which could be announced later Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the team is also bringing in cornerback Ronald Darby for a visit, according to multiple reports.

Darby, 25, is considered perhaps the top corner on the free agent market, although he is coming off of a torn ACL. He played in nine games for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, intercepting one pass and breaking up 12.

Acquired by Philadelphia from the Buffalo Bills for a third-round pick and wideout Jordan Matthews before the 2017 season, Darby also missed eight games to injury that year because of a dislocated ankle.

Former Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson, who started all 16 games in 2018, is reportedly leaving to join the Pittsburgh Steelers. Orlando Scandrick, who started seven games at corner for Kansas City, is also a free agent.

–Field Level Media

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NFL transactions notebook: NT Mebane agrees to deal with Chargers

NFL transactions notebook: NT Mebane agrees to deal with Chargers

Nose

NFL transactions notebook: NT Mebane agrees to deal with Chargers

Nose tackle Brandon Mebane remained with the Los Angeles Chargers after agreeing to a two-year deal on Wednesday, according to the team.

Mebane had 40 tackles and one sack in 12 games last season, his third with the franchise. He has 17.5 career sacks in 12 NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks (2007-15) and Chargers.

–OT Daryl Williams re-signed with the Carolina Panthers for one year in a deal worth $7 million, according to the NFL Network. Williams played in just one game last season after dislocating his right kneecap during training camp.

Williams has played in 40 games (29 starts) in four seasons with the Panthers.

–The Miami Dolphins announced the release of four-time Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last season and played in just one game with the team.

The Dolphins reportedly will save $5 million by releasing Sitton, who signed a two-year contract prior to last season. He has played in 148 career games with the Green Bay Packers (2008-15), Chicago Bears (2016-17) and Dolphins.

–OL Ted Larsen signed a one-year contract to rejoin the Bears after playing the last two seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Larsen started eight games at right guard for Chicago in 2016.

Larsen has played 125 games (86 starts) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2010-13), Arizona Cardinals (2014-15), Bears and Dolphins.

–LB Adarius Taylor signed a two-year, $5 million deal with $2.55 million guaranteed with the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland.com reported.

Taylor started 10 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018 and has played in 60 contests (16 starts) in five NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers (2014) and Bucs (2015-18). He has one career interception and three forced fumbles.

–DT Mitch Unrein was waived by the Buccaneers with a failed-physical designation. Unrien suffered a concussion during training camp last season and spent his lone season with Tampa Bay on injured reserve.

Unrien has played in 95 games (24 starts) with the Denver Broncos (2011-14), San Diego Chargers (2015) and Chicago Bears (2015-17). He has 4.5 career sacks and one fumble recovery.

–CB Jason Verrett is visiting with the San Francisco 49ers, according to the NFL Network.

The former first-round pick of the Chargers has played in just five games over the past three seasons due to injuries. Verrett has five interceptions in 25 career games (23 starts).

–Field Level Media

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Broncos announce trade for Flacco; Ravens get pick 113

Broncos announce trade for Flacco; Ravens get pick 113

The Denver Broncos

Broncos announce trade for Flacco; Ravens get pick 113

The Denver Broncos on Wednesday officially announced they have acquired quarterback Joe Flacco from the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Flacco, 34, was the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 and was the Ravens’ starter since 2008 until a hip injury in 2018 sent Flacco to the sidelines after Week 9. Rookie first-round pick Lamar Jackson took over for Flacco and didn’t relinquish the starting role.

The pick the Broncos are sending to the Ravens is the 113th overall, the first of Denver’s two picks in that round.

“He can make all the throws. If we protect him and do a good job of that, he’ll make the right decisions,” Broncos general manager/president of football operations John Elway told The Denver Post.

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta told the teams’ website of Flacco:

“Joe is the best quarterback in Ravens history. Not only is he talented, but he was clutch for us in the most difficult games against excellent defenses in the loudest and most raucous stadiums. Honestly, he’s one of my favorite draft picks ever.”

Case Keenum, the Broncos’ starter last season, was traded to the Washington Redskins along with a 2020 seventh-round draft pick for a 2020 sixth-round selection to make room for Flacco.

Keenum passed for 3,890 yards and 18 touchdowns against 15 interceptions last season while starting all 16 regular-season games for the first time, but Denver went just 6-10.

“Last year didn’t go the way we wanted it to but I think it made me a better football player, it made me a better person, made me tougher,” Keenum told the Redskins’ website. “And it taught me what it really means to have a team really count on your quarterback to make plays down the stretch when you really need to. It’s something I’m excited to grow from, something I’m excited to learn from and implement this next year with the Redskins.”

Hip and back injuries were concerns for Flacco in recent seasons.

Flacco has spent all 11 of his NFL seasons with the Ravens, starting all 163 of his games played. He has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 38,245 yards and 212 touchdowns. He was the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.

In March 2016, he signed a three-year, $66.4 million contract extension that runs through the 2021 season. That will need to be re-worked, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Ravens must carry Flacco’s $26.5 million cap hit until June 1, per the NFL Network.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: QB Bridgewater visits Miami, puts Saints on hold

Reports: QB Bridgewater visits Miami, puts Saints on hold

Reports: QB Bridgewater visits Miami, puts Saints on hold

The Dolphins are making a last-ditch attempt to lure quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to Miami before he signs a contract to return to the New Orleans Saints, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe said Bridgewater was visiting the Dolphins practice facility Wednesday afternoon. ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported on air that Bridgewater is expected to join the Dolphins if the team will add a few million dollars to their offer.

On Tuesday, an NFL Network report said Bridgewater turned down more money from the Dolphins to return to New Orleans and serve as the heir apparent to 40-year-old Drew Brees.

Bridgewater, 26, signed a free agent contract with the New York Jets last spring. New Orleans traded a third-round pick to the Jets in August for Bridgewater, who proved during preseason he was healthy after a 2016 knee injury with the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints also received a sixth-round pick in the deal.

The Dolphins are in quarterback limbo with Ryan Tannehill’s future unclear under the new coach-GM combination of Brian Flores and Chris Grier. Multiple outlets have reported Tannehill will be traded or released at some point.

–Field Level Media

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Ravens welcome FS Thomas, RB Ingram

Ravens welcome FS Thomas, RB Ingram

Ravens welcome FS Thomas, RB Ingram

Free safety Earl Thomas joined the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday.

The team announced the deal as free agency officially began, and reports indicate Thomas secured a four-year deal worth $55 million.

A six-time Pro Bowl selection with 28 career interceptions, Thomas’ addition boosts a Baltimore defense hit hard by free agency losses, including linebackers C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith and defensive lineman Terrell Suggs. Safety Eric Weddle was released in a cap-savings move last week and joined the Los Angeles Rams.

The Ravens also announced the signing of running back Mark Ingram. Reports indicate the former New Orleans Saints Pro Bowler can earn $15 million over three years.

According to reports, Thomas receives $32 million in guarantees.

Thomas did not miss a game the first six seasons of his career, a centerpiece in the secondary known in Seattle as the Legion of Boom.

Ingram brings a between-the-tackles running style to pair with quarterback Lamar Jackson in Baltimore’s power-running offense. Ingram, 29, ran for 645 yards and six touchdowns with the Saints in 2018. He started the season on the suspended list and missed four games. The former Heisman Trophy winner rushed for 6,007 yards and 50 touchdowns in eight seasons with New Orleans.

Thomas, who turns 30 in May, was one of the most coveted defensive playmakers on the market despite suffering a broken left leg that ended his season in 2018. It was the second time in three years he ended a season on IR with the same injury. He missed the final five games in 2016.

Thomas had a rod inserted in his fractured left leg to aid his chances to recover fully and decrease the possibility of another fracture.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Chiefs trading LB Ford to 49ers

Reports: Chiefs trading LB Ford to 49ers

Reports: Chiefs trading LB Ford to 49ers

The Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday agreed to trade pass-rushing linebacker Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2020 second-round pick, according to multiple reports.

Just last week, the Chiefs put a franchise tag on Ford, though reports indicated a deal was in the works.

A source told ESPN that Ford is expected to receive a multiyear deal in the range of five years, $87.5 million from the 49ers. The deal will become official on Wednesday, when the new league year begins.

Moving Ford seemed inevitable after the Chiefs decided to switch from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3 under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. An undersized defensive end didn’t exactly seem to be the right fit.

“Still kind of assessing that,” Spagnuolo said in February when asked about Ford. “The one thing he can do, and we all know this, he is an explosive football player that makes a lot of plays. He’s had some production and if he is here with us, I’ll be excited to have him and be excited to work with him.”

Ford has 30.5 career sacks in five seasons, all with the Chiefs, including a personal-best 13 in 2018, when he attained career firsts by starting all 16 regular-season games and being selected to the Pro Bowl. He also forced a league-high seven fumbles.

Ford, 27, earned about $8.7 million in 2018 after the fifth-year option of his contract was exercised. The one-year franchise tag for linebackers is worth $15,443,000 in 2019.

On Sunday, the Chiefs released veteran linebacker Justin Houston, leaving them without their top two pass rushers from last season.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Jets to sign RB Bell

Reports: Jets to sign RB Bell

Reports: Jets to sign RB Bell

Running back Le’Veon Bell will sign with the New York Jets after sitting out the 2018 season, according to multiple reports late Tuesday night.

Bell reportedly landed a four-year, $52.5 million deal. The contract includes $35 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The former Steelers back didn’t play last season after failing to agree to a new contract with Pittsburgh, which had used its franchise tag on him for the second year in a row.

Bell, 27, refused to sign the $14.5 million franchise tag and forced his way into free agency. His deal with the Jets can become official at the start of the new league year Wednesday.

Bell tweeted late Tuesday night, “I’m back in the green baby, let’s get it”

The Jets were considered the front-runner for Bell despite the New York Daily News reporting Monday that there are some in the organization who didn’t believe Bell to be worth money he demanded.

In five seasons in Pittsburgh, Bell had 5,336 rushing and 2,660 receiving yards with 42 touchdowns. He led the NFL in 2017 in both carries (321) and total touches (406).

The Steelers could receive as high as a 2020 third-round draft pick as compensation for losing Bell.

–Field Level Media

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Report: TE Harris to sign with Browns

Report: TE Harris to sign with Browns

Report: TE Harris to sign with Browns

Tight end Demetrius Harris will sign a two-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

Harris spent the previous five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs as a blocking specialist.

With David Njoku already providing a pass-catching option for the Browns, Harris figures to play the same role he did with Kansas City.

Harris, 27, joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2013.

In 71 career games, Harris has 57 catches for 605 yards and six touchdowns.

The move follows Tuesday’s reported deal with the New York Giants that will bring superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Former Dolphins DE Wake to join Titans

Report: Former Dolphins DE Wake to join Titans

Report: Former Dolphins DE Wake to join Titans

After spending his entire 10-year career with the Miami Dolphins, defensive end Cameron Wake is set to join the Tennessee Titans, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.

Wake, 37, is reportedly receiving a three-year, $23 million deal with $10 million guaranteed.

The former Penn State product began his career with two seasons in the Canadian Football League before joining the Dolphins in 2009.

He became a breakout star in his second season in Miami, starting all 16 games and racking up 14 sacks.

Through his time in Miami, Wake played in 146 games and amassed 98 sacks, 360 tackles and 22 forced fumbles.

In 2018, however, Wake was limited to six sacks — the lowest total since his rookie season.

Defensive end Jurrell Casey (7) and linebacker Jayon Brown (6) led the Titans in sacks last season.

–Field Level Media

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WR Perriman joins Bucs instead of Browns

WR Perriman joins Bucs instead of Browns

Free agent wide

WR Perriman joins Bucs instead of Browns

Free agent wide receiver Breshad Perriman was set to sign a one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, but backed out after they agreed to a trade for Odell Beckham Jr., according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Instead, Perriman signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday, the team announced. Per multiple reports, the deal is worth $4 million, the same amount he was set to make in Cleveland..

A first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2015, Perriman has struggled to make an impact in the NFL. He made just four starts in 27 appearances over three seasons in Baltimore, then signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent in 2018 only to be released days later.

He latched on with the injury-depleted Browns last season and had 16 catches for 340 yards and two touchdowns.

According to reports, the addition of Beckham concerned Perriman, who is hoping to have a breakout season that will let him earn a larger contract next offseason.

The Buccaneers lost receivers DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries this offseason.

–Field Level Media

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Report: WR Perriman to join Bucs instead of Browns

Report: WR Perriman to join Bucs instead of Browns

Free

Report: WR Perriman to join Bucs instead of Browns

Free agent wide receiver Breshad Perriman was set to sign a one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, but backed out after they agreed to a trade for Odell Beckham Jr., according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Instead, Perriman will reportedly sign a one-year, $4 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2015, Perriman has struggled to make an impact in the NFL. He made just four starts in 27 appearances over three seasons in Baltimore, then signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent in 2018 only to be released days later.

He latched on with the injury-depleted Browns last season and had 16 catches for 340 yards and two touchdowns.

According to reports, the addition of Beckham concerned Perriman, who is hoping to have a breakout season that will let him earn a larger contract next offseason.

The Buccaneers lost receivers DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries this offseason.

–Field Level Media

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Murder conviction restored for Aaron Hernandez

Murder conviction restored for Aaron Hernandez

Calling it "outdated," the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts has eliminated a state legal principle that wiped out the murder conviction of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez after his suicide.

"The SJC has ruled that Aaron Hernandez's conviction for the 2013

Murder conviction restored for Aaron Hernandez

Calling it “outdated,” the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts has eliminated a state legal principle that wiped out the murder conviction of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez after his suicide.

“The SJC has ruled that Aaron Hernandez’s conviction for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd will stand,” Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III said, per NBC Boston. “We are pleased justice is served in this case, the antiquated practice of vacating a valid conviction is being eliminated and the victim’s family can get the closure they deserve.”

Hernandez was convicted on April 15, 2015 of the 2013 death of semipro football player Odin Lloyd in North Attleborough, Mass.

The 27-year-old Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell on April 19, 2017, with his death ruled a suicide. He had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

But a judge threw out his conviction on the existing principle that dictated that someone found guilty who dies before having a chance to have his appeal reviewed should no longer be considered guilty.

The court called it “outdated and no longer consonant with the circumstances of contemporary life” in Wednesday’s decision, which prosecutors had begun pushing for in November.

The state’s highest court in 2016 refused to change the legal rule in connection with another case, but the Hernandez prosecutors took up the cause.

“The current practice … does not consider the interest of the other parties who have an interest in the outcome,” Quinn told the Boston Globe at the time. He said victims’ relatives, jurors and the public have interest in such cases.

The Patriots selected Hernandez in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He teamed with Rob Gronkowski to form a formidable tight end duo and before the 2012 season, New England signed Hernandez to a five-year, $41 million contract extension that would have expired in 2018.

The team released him the day of his arrest in the Lloyd case.

–Field Level Media

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Saints K Lutz signs five-year contract

Saints K Lutz signs five-year contract

Saints K Lutz signs five-year contract

New Orleans Saints kicker Will Lutz signed a five-year contract on Wednesday.

Lutz’s agent posted a picture of Lutz signing a contract at the Saints’ facility in Metairie, La., and said the deal sets a new record for placekicker contracts.

The team confirmed the move, which replaces the one-year restricted free agent tender for Lutz.

“This is the team that took a shot in the dark on me from the start,” Lutz said on a media conference call Wednesday.

Lutz, 24, made 28 of 30 field goal attempts (93.3 percent) and 52 of 53 extra point attempts for 136 total points in 2018.

–Field Level Media

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Bengals re-sign LB Brown for $21M

Bengals re-sign LB Brown for $21M

Linebacker Preston Brown signed a three-year, $21 million deal to return

Bengals re-sign LB Brown for $21M

Linebacker Preston Brown signed a three-year, $21 million deal to return to the Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday.

The team confirmed the deal with Brown, who would’ve been a free agent at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.

After four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Brown joined the Bengals last season and started seven games, recording 42 tackles. Brown was limited with ankle and knee injuries.

He has 69 career starts in 71 games played.

The Bills drafted Brown in the third round out of Louisville in 2014.

–Field Level Media

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