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3/4/2015
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Justin Forsett Doesn't Want To Be A One-Year Wonder (3/1 1:41 PT)

The Facts: Forsett ran for 1,266 yards, caught 44 passes and scored eight touchdowns as Baltimore advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs. He did all that on a one-year, $730,000 contract that will leave him as a free agent in a little more than a week if he doesn't re-sign with the Ravens. Staying put is Forsett's top choice and he's "praying that everything works out" with the Ravens. Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: Wherever Forsett winds up, though, he plans more of the same in 2015. "I want to build upon it," Forsett said. "I want to be great. I didn't come in this league to be a one-year wonder. Every time I got an opportunity I was able to seize it and I want to continue to do that." As PFT notes, there's a fairly deep group of free agent running backs that will be joined by a fairly deep group of backs in the draft, something that won't help Forsett's chances of getting out of the "friend zone" of short-term commitments from teams. His six years as a journeyman before breaking out in a running back-friendly offense could also be a deterrent since Forsett won't be able to prove he's more than a one-year wonder until he's already signed a deal.

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Ray Rice Optimistic He'll Get A Second Chance (3/1 1:37 PT)

The Facts: Ten days away from the launch of free agency, Rice remains "optimistic" that his NFL career will go on. In a wide-ranging interview with Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, the former Ravens running back expressed hope that teams will pick up the phone after last year's public tumble from grace."I'm optimistic that I'll get a second chance," Rice said.  Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Rice was suspended by the NFL at the beginning of last season after video footage surfaced of him striking his then-fiancée -- and now wife -- Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City elevator. The 28-year-old Rice was reinstated in November when Judge Barbara S. Jones ruled that he did not mislead Commissioner Roger Goodell, and therefore, should not have been disciplined beyond his initial two-game suspension. Asked what he would tell interested teams, Rice promised to "own my mistake." In a deep free-agent market for running backs, teams are likely to look elsewhere, but Rice believes he can still play. Revealing to the Sun that he quietly battled through a torn quadriceps in 2013, Rice billed himself today as a back who "can play all three downs. ..." From a fantasy football perspective, we recommend a "believe-it-when-you-see-it" approach.

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Jonas Gray Hopes To Regain Belichick's Trust (3/1 1:34 PT)

The Facts: After showing up late for a Friday meeting following his breakout game against the Colts in November, Gray went from Sports Illustrated cover boy to undercover. He became nonexistent in the offense, was in and out of the doghouse and ultimately relegated to sideline cheerleader at the Super Bowl. Gray said he is determined to work so hard during the offseason, and improve to the point that he'll never find himself on the outside looking in again. "When people ask me about the offseason, I tell them, I'm going to have a Jerry Rice/Walter Payton mentality where whatever you do isn't enough," he said. "I'm going to have a work ethic where I know, in my heart of hearts, I'm going to outwork everybody. That's what I hope to achieve." Reported by the Boston Herald

Diehards Line: Gray had his signature game against the Colts, rushing for 201 yards on 37 carries while scoring four touchdowns. That helped him finish the regular season with team-leading totals in rushing yards (412), per-carry average (4.6) and touchdowns (five). And as the Herald noted, part of the issue with Gray being limited over the final nine games, sitting out four of those all together, had to do with the game plan. If the Pats weren't going to run much, he typically was the odd man out because he doesn't play special teams, and Bill Belichick tends to favor established players such as LeGarrette Blount, over the younger, inexperienced ones, especially during the postseason. It's a matter of Belichick trusting the veteran player to not make critical mistakes. In other words, Gray has something to prove this offseason. But with Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley (unrestricted) and Brandon Bolden (restricted) all eligible for free agency, the opportunity could be there.

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No Surprise: Cowboys Ready To Apply Franchise Tag To Dez Bryant (3/1 1:35 PT)

The Facts: Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones confirmed to FOX Sports Southwest that the team indeed expects to apply the franchise tag to Bryant by Monday's deadline. "I still think that it's probably, you know, would be a stretch to think that we would have something done by Monday and beat the franchise-tag deadline," Jones said. "Looks like we're eyeing a franchise tag on Dez, but certainly won't stop us from working hard to get a long-term deal." Reported by FOXSports.com

Diehards Line: Nothing new here. ... The Cowboys were close to a "Cowboy-for-Life" deal with Bryant back in late October, but negotiations went back to square one as Bryant fired agent Eugene Parker in favor of Tom Condon, who the Cowboys front office met with this past week. The last time the Cowboys applied the franchise tag was in 2013 with Anthony Spencer, who missed 15 games due to a bone bruise in his left knee. The tag was applied because of indecision between the Cowboys and Spencer. Jones made clear the club is tagging Bryant to buy more negotiating time. "We just don't want to lose his rights," Jones said. "We think Dez is a, you know, unique player and certainly a big part of what we do in terms of what we've done, our success, and certainly going forward. ..." Stay tuned.

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Carson Palmer Might Alter Contract To Help Cards Out (3/1 1:33 PT)

The Facts: Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix reports that Palmer may alter his contract before even playing a full game under its terms. Palmer is due a $9.5 million roster bonus this year and the team would gain more than $7 million under the salary cap by converting it to a signing bonus to spread the cap hit out over the life of the contract. Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: Palmer signed a four-year extension with the Cardinals last November then tore his ACL three days later and missed the remainder of the season. His rehab is said to be ahead of schedule. ... The Cardinals have been very active already this offseason when it comes to creating cap space as they’ve given wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald a reworked deal and started working on the same with defensive lineman Darnell Dockett. As PFT suggests, kicking the can down the road like that can lead to future cap squeezes, but the Cardinals have an eye on winning now after 21 wins in the last two seasons and the immediate financial fuel a Palmer restructure offers would be appealing for a team with that mindset.

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Will LeSean McCoy Have To Take A Pay Cut? (2/28 1:21 PT)

The Facts: McCoy's 2015 cap number is $11.9 million, second highest among NFL running backs to Adrian Peterson ($15.4 million). McCoy is only 26 and is one of the two or three best backs in the league. But he already has nearly 1,800 career touches. If his cap number were, say $5 million to $6 million, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation. But it isn't. Chip Kelly has said he wants McCoy back, but at $11.9 million? Not likely. Reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer

Diehards Line: So wrote Daily News staffer Paul Domowitch, who noted that when you add Darren Sproles' $4.1 million cap number to McCoy's and you have $16 million of the Eagles' 2015 salary cap (expected to be around $140 million) invested at running back. And that will increase even more once the Eagles tender restrict free agent Chris Polk. Sounds like McCoy might have to work out a new deal to stick around. It's a situation worth watching.

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Report: Vincent Jackson Hasn't Been Asked To Take A Pay Cut (2/28 1:19 PT)

The Facts: With so many veteran receivers in line for potential pay cuts, a myth has emerged that the Buccaneers have asked Jackson to take a pay cut. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, they haven’t. Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: While that technically doesn’t preclude the Buccaneers from doing so in the not-so-distant future, PFT's Mike Florio believes we should consider this: They really like Jackson, they consider him to be part of the team, they believe they need him in order to be successful this year, and they consider his $9.77-million salary to reflect current market value. Some of the speculation regarding a looming request to take less surely comes from the trade chatter that emerged last season regarding Jackson. But the Buccaneers, Florio is told, never actually shopped him. Instead, they listened to all offers for any players. If a team like the Eagles made an offer for Jackson and the Bucs didn’t trade him, that says plenty about their desire to keep him around in 2015.

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Eagles Might Franchise Jeremy Maclin; But Long-Term Deal Will Follow (2/28 1:18 PT)

The Facts: Maclin should be the No. 1 priority for the Eagles before free agency starts on March 10. If a deal can’t be struck by Monday afternoon, the Eagles will have to decide whether or not to use the franchise tag ($12.8 million). It’s unlikely the Eagles will want to pay Maclin that much over one season.  Reported by the Philadelphia Daily News

Diehards Line: As Inquirer staffer Jeff McLane explained, if they lose Maclin the Eagles are really going to have to pay if they want to sign a free agent of comparable skill -- if there is one remaining. It shouldn’t come to that. Maclin wants to stay, the Eagles want him, and last McLane heard they weren’t significantly far apart. He should end up with a contract somewhere in the $9.5-$10 million a year range with most of around $20 million guaranteed in the first two years. He rolled the dice signing a one-year contract and delivered a career season (85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns) in 2014, but Maclin is still viewed around the league as just a smidge below the elite set of receivers. Chip Kelly probably places more worth on Maclin because he knows the intangibles (full effort, team leader, high character) he brings to the table, but the Eagles would probably only use the tag to buy time and keep Maclin off the market.

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Stevie Johnson's Future With 49ers Up In The Air (2/28 1:16 PT)

The Facts: With a new coaching staff, a base salary of $5.5 million, a $275,000 workout bonus, and a $250,000 roster bonus due in March, the 49ers want Johnson to take a pay cut, per a league source. According to another source, however, a request to accept less has not yet been made. Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: Diana Russini of NBC 4 in Washington reports that the 49ers are expected to release Johnson. It’s possible he’ll simply be cut without any discussion about taking less. Chances are, however, that a cut would be preceded by a negotiation. Eventually, Johnson most likely will be asked to take less in order to stay. ... Acquired via trade in 2014, Johnson never became fully engaged in the offense, resulting in only one start, 35 catches, 435 yards, and three touchdowns. We'll be watching for more.

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This Just In: Somebody Is Going To Pay Julius Thomas A Lot Of Money (2/28 12:17 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Reportedly seeking a near record in guarantees for TEs, Thomas has rejected a five-year, $40 million offer that wasn't structured to his specifications. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport expects GM John Elway to let Thomas test his value on the open market -- unless Peyton Manning goes to bat for one of his favorite targets. Thomas will have a "very active market" for his services with Jacksonville and Oakland as potential landing spots, per Rapoport. Atlanta has also been mentioned as a likely suitor.  Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Well that's going way out on a limb. ... For starters, all of that has been previously reported. And there are questions in Denver about the former college hoops star's injury history as well as his fit in Gary Kubiak's scheme that requires tight ends to do more blocking on cutback runs. And the fact there will be a number of suitors also makes sense. As NFL.com suggests, Thomas isn't merely a product of Manning's offense. His emergence as a mismatch for linebackers and safeties was the engine that drove the Broncos' record-breaking attack in 2013. Despite missing considerable time in 2014, Thomas still became the first tight end in NFL history with at least 12 touchdowns in back-to-back years.

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Would Cardinals Make A Play For Adrian Peterson? (2/28 12:10 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... In two years on the job, Cardinals GM Steve Keim has been pragmatic in making trades and signing players in free agency. Chasing names and reputations has not been his style. Peterson is different. He's still in his prime and the Cardinals need a durable, physical runner. If the Vikings are open to trading Peterson, or if they end up releasing him, Keim has to be interested. Reported by the Arizona Republic

Diehards Line: So wrote Republic staffer Kent Somers, who reminded readers that taking OT Levi Brown instead of Peterson with the fifth overall pick in 2007 turned out to be a colossal mistake. Eight years later, the Cardinals might -- and it's impossible to put too much emphasis on "might" -- have another opportunity to acquire Peterson. The buzz surrounding the Peterson-Cardinals connection started when Somers suggested such a pairing during a radio spot. It gained momentum when Peterson's father, Nelson, told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press he's heard rumors that the Cardinals, Colts and Cowboys would be interested. Of course, the Vikings insist they want Peterson back, although the running back told ESPN.com he is "uneasy" about returning to the team. The salary cap complicates matters, too. But the issue wouldn't be insurmountable. It's not a given that Peterson will be on the market soon, perhaps not ever. It might take months for the NFL's appeal to be heard. But if he's available, Somers contends "the Cardinals won't pass on Peterson as easily as they did the first time."

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Josh McCown Agrees To Terms With Cleveland (2/27 5:31 PT)

The Facts: According to his agent, Mike McCartney, McCown has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns. Reported by FootballDiehards.com

Diehards Line: The Bills were also said to be in the hunt, which obviously helped the veteran signal caller get a deal he can live with in Cleveland. According to FOXSports.com's Mike Garafolo, McCown got a three-year contract. Released by the Buccaneers earlier this month, McCown enjoyed the finest season of his career with the Bears in 2013, throwing 13 touchdowns to just one interception in eight games. Things didn't go as well in Tampa Bay last season. He started 11 games in his time with the Bucs, completing 56.3 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 70.5 quarterback rating. But with Cleveland looking for a starting QB, assume McCown is the leading candidate until further notice.

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Adrian Peterson Issues A Statement; Says Little (2/27 4:27 PT)

The Facts: On Thursday, Judge David Doty overturned the arbitration decision upholding the suspension of Peterson. While Peterson is not yet reinstated, he has been returned to the Commissioner-Exempt list, which allows him to speak to the Vikings. On Friday, he spoke publicly, via press release. "I was pleased to learn about Judge Doty's decision," Peterson said. "It is a positive step in protecting players' rights and preserving due process for all players." Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: The statement continued: "It also brings me one step closer to getting back on the football field and playing the sport I love. As I prepare for my return to football, I am still focused on my family and continue to work to become a better father every day. ..." As PFT notes, Peterson says nothing about whether he does or doesn't want to return to the Vikings. Last week, he confirmed that he has some misgivings about returning to Minnesota, which holds his rights for the next three seasons. Meanwhile, the Vikings, Colts, Cardinals and Cowboys are all being mentioned as teams that could wind up with Peterson on their roster. We shall see.

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Reggie Wayne Still Considering His Future As He Rehabs From Surgery (2/27 4:23 PT)

The Facts: According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Wayne had triceps surgery and is now rehabbing as he mulls whether to play in 2015. The Colts wait, too.  Reported by FootballDiehards.com

Diehards Line: In case you missed it, Wayne's productivity fell off precipitously after he suffered an elbow injury. Whether the six-time Pro Bowler decides to return after getting passed by younger players remains to be seen. He sounded uncertain earlier this month and the decision could hinge of the success of his elbow surgery. Donte Moncrief owners should stay tuned; while Wayne's presence wouldn't preclude the second-year man to be from moving into the starting lineup, the veteran's absence wouldn't hurt.

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Aaron Dobson Putting In Extra Work This Offseason (2/27 4:22 PT)

The Facts: Dobson is anteing up for a season that could define his NFL career. After a pair of injury-shortened campaigns, Dobson dedicated himself to a new workout plan at Fischer Institute in Phoenix. Dobson has been in the program for two weeks and is expected to remain for 6-8 weeks before returning to Gillette Stadium for the April 20 start of offseason workouts. Reported by the Boston Herald

Diehards Line: Brett Fischer, who runs the facility, has vast experience with the Patriots, as he hosted Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty among a handful of defensive backs last offseason. He has a history of producing results. Fischer has seen a 2013 second-round pick who is motivated to come back strong after a couple of disappointing seasons. “He was talking about, ‘When I go up there (to Foxboro) and they see me again, I want to make sure they know I’m in the best shape of my life.’ He is really determined,” Fischer said. ... Dobson strained his hamstring in Week 13, and the Patriots placed him on injured reserve, though he didn’t require surgery. He only caught three passes for 38 yards in 2014, which was also interrupted on the front end because he underwent major surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot last March. As a result, Dobson didn’t debut at practice until Aug. 11, so he essentially missed nine weeks of offseason workouts and two weeks of training camp. Will different preparation this offseason lead to different outcome? We'll be watching for more.

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Dolphins Release WR Brandon Gibson (2/27 3:41 PT)

The Facts: In addition to the previously reported release of Brian Hartline, the Dolphins announced the release of Gibson on Friday. Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Gibson signed a three-year $9.755 million contract that same offseason. His release will save the franchise $3.26 million. Gibson was a No. 4 receiver who caught 29 passes and one touchdown in just 516 snaps. The next task for the Dolphins brass will be to figure out how to proceed with Mike Wallace and his bloated contract. ... Stay tuned.

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Report: No Progress On Long-Term Deal For Demaryius Thomas (2/27 1:56 PT)

The Facts: According to CBS4 in Denver's Vic Lombardi, there hasn't been much progress on a long-term deal for Thomas. He expects to be franchise tagged on Tuesday.  Reported by FootballDiehards.com

Diehards Line: It will be no surprise if that's how it plays out. GM John Elway said at the NFL Scouting Combine last Thursday that the team will either sign Thomas to a long-term contract by the March 2 deadline or they will use the tag on him to ensure that he remains with the team for the 2015 season. Thomas has caught 297 passes for 4,483 yards and 35 touchdowns over the last three seasons and he should have plenty of big years ahead (Thomas doesn't turn 28 until December). Using the tag would still give the two sides until July to work out a long-term deal that both sides would prefer. ... Stay tuned.

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Shane Vereen Downplays Notion He Wants $5 Million A Year (2/27 1:50 PT)

The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... Vereen doesn't expect to make $5 million next year, and he wants that to be perfectly clear before the negotiation period gets particularly heated. New England's most dependable running back responded directly on Twitter to a report that he was "hopeful" to haul in the running back's equivalent of a mega-deal this offseason. "Haha not true," Vereen tweeted. "But who wouldn't be?!?!" Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: As NFL.com's Conor Orr suggested, "In a way it's sad that Vereen wants to make it known that he's not asking for $5 million. For a crucial piece of a complicated passing offense, his skill set and understanding are extremely valuable and should be weighted heavily come bargaining time." But that's the market as it stands now. Teams just aren't putting out top-end money for running backs. ... Vereen, 25, is coming off the first 16-game season of his career. His previous high was 13 back in 2012.

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Path Now Clear For Chiefs To Ramp Up Travis Kelce's Snaps (2/27 1:48 PT)

The Facts: It looks like the Chiefs are paving the way for Kelce to be their undisputed, lead tight end in 2015. On Thursday, the team announced the release of veteran TE Anthony Fasano, who had been their primary starter for the last two years. Reported by the Kansas City Star

Diehards Line: Kelce, who essentially had his entire rookie season wiped out because of a knee injury, bounced back to catch 67 passes for 862 yards and five touchdowns in 2014. He started 11 games, but with Fasano out of the mix, Star beat writer Terez A. Paylor reports the Chiefs will clearly be relying on him to be an every-down threat. The Chiefs currently have four other tight ends on the roster, including second-year pro Demetrius Harris, veteran Richard Gordon and developmental prospects Brandon Barden and Adam Schiltz. Harris, who is listed at 6-7 and 230 pounds, caught three passes for 20 yards in eight games (three starts) before a foot injury ended his season. He would appear to be in the mix for the No. 2 job, though free agency and the draft could change that.

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Bears Re-Sign TE Zach Miller (2/27 1:47 PT)

The Facts: Chicago has signed Miller to a one-year contract, the team said Friday morning on Twitter. He was slated to become an unrestricted free agent. Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: The 30-year-old Miller spent the 2014 regular season on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury in August. At the time of his injury, Miller was bidding to make the Bears, and he had just come off a six-catch, two-TD performance in Chicago's preseason opener. A Nebraska-Omaha product, Miller has caught 45 passes for 470 yards and four touchdowns in NFL regular-season play, all with Jacksonville (2009-2011).

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McCoy Heading To Buffalo  
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What Next For AP?  
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Demaryius Thomas Tagged  
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Cowboys Franchise Dez  
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Murray To Test Market  
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Will Cobb Re-Sign With Packers?  
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