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1/31/2015
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Tom Brady Doesn't Expect To Talk To NFL Until After Super Bowl (1/26 12:07 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Brady does not anticipate speaking to NFL investigators until after Super Bowl XLIX. The Patriots quarterback said as much on Sunday night during ESPN's Pro Bowl halftime show, less than 24 hours before his team touches down in Arizona.  Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: When asked about the ongoing probe into the Patriots' handling, and possible deflating of footballs against league regulation, he said the inquisition would happen soon, just not before the big game. "I believe they're going to do it after the season," Brady said. "So we'll deal with it after this game. I think everybody is locked in, ready to go for the Super Bowl. ..." The Patriots have already produced the findings of their internal investigation and are acting like a team that is not ready to admit any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, anybody expecting resolution in advance of the Super Bowl should reset those expectations.

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Browns Have Reached Out To Talk Contract With Brian Hoyer (1/25 4:14 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... With their options limited under center, the Browns have reached out to Hoyer about a contract extension. "We never got to the numbers part," Joe Linta, Hoyer's agent, told the Akron Beacon Journal on Saturday. "They called and said they were interested in bringing him back." Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Set to become a free agent in March, Hoyer is scheduled to meet with coach Mike Pettine, general manager Ray Farmer and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in the coming weeks. What they tell him is likely to determine whether Hoyer is willing to stick with a Browns team that turned to Johnny Manziel down the stretch. An open competition seems likely after DeFilippo wondered out loud last week if his "starting quarterback's in the building right now or not," before team owner Jimmy Haslam went a step further by declaring: "We've got to get a quarterback and got to get it fixed." Safe to assume we haven't heard the last of this one.

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Justin Forsett Continues To Lobby For Return To Baltimore (1/25 3:07 PT)

The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... After spending the past four seasons with four different franchises, the 29-year-old Forsett wants to return to Baltimore for another season. "That is the plan, they gave me my shot, they trusted me and believed in me enough to give me that shot so I'd like to stay," Forsett said after Friday's Pro Bowl practice. Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: He hasn't had contract discussions with the team, but Forsett is optimistic a deal could surface this offseason. "They expressed that they want me back. I want to be back, so we'll see what happens," he said. Part of the concern for the Ravens could be that Forsett's success came in a Gary Kubiak-led offense, which has similarly boosted the stock of other backs. New OC Marc Trestman stressed this week that he plans on retaining that zone-blocking scheme. Forsett believes that either way he could find success in Baltimore. "I believe I can do all styles, but the last couple years I've been in a zone scheme, so I'm ready for whatever," he said. Assuming the Ravens bring him back, it will be interesting to see whether his 2014 success is viewed as a fluke or a product of Kubiak's scheme more than it is Forsett's talent.

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Report: Josh Gordon To Miss Another Year Thanks To Another Failed Drug Test (1/25 2:50 PT)

The Facts: According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Gordon flunked another drug test and now will be subject to a one-year banishment, per league sources. Reported by FootballDiehards.com

Diehards Line: And is anybody surprised by this news? Whatever the case, assuming he did flunk as reported he will be banned as reported. We'll follow up as needed, but at this point, fantasy owners who invested in Gordon in Dynasty and keeper formats appear to be out of luck. ... You'll find a more detailed version of the story HERE.

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GM Loves Marshawn Lynch’s Act (1/25 12:05 PT)

The Facts: Some might be tired of Lynch's disdain for talking to the media or proclivity to make gestures that result in fines, but not the Seahawks brass. "No, I kind of love his act," Seattle general manager John Schneider told reporters on Friday, per The News Tribune. Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported last Sunday that the Seahawks were open to bringing back Lynch next season, despite entering 2014 with plans to part ways with their offensive stalwart. "I mean, he's under contract next year," Schneider said Friday. "He's a warrior. Goes out there every weekend and lays it on the line. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better running back in the National Football League." Lynch is set to earn $5 million next season with incentives that could push it to $7 million. While that price tag might be steeper than what the Seahawks planned to budget for the position, it appears that Schneider understands Beast Mode's importance, regardless of what "act" comes with it.

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Belichick Takes To Podium In Effort To Put Deflated Footballs Behind Pats (1/24 2:51 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... HC Bill Belichick called a surprise press conference Saturday to further explain his team's activities that led to the league's investigation if the Patriots intentionally deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts. "At no time was there any intent -- whatsoever -- to try and compromise the integrity of the game," Belichick said. Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Belichick went on to explain in great detail the process the team goes through to prepare footballs for a game and went on explain why a football's PSI could change due to atmospheric conditions. "It's similar to the concept of when you get into your car and the light comes on and it says low tire pressure, because the car has been sitting in the driveway outside overnight, and you start it up and start driving it, and the light goes off -- it's a similar concept to that. So the atmospheric conditions, as well as the true equilibrium of the ball, is critical to the measurement. In no, at no time were any of our footballs prepared anywhere other than in the locker room or in an area very close to that. Never in a heated room or heated condition that has absolutely never taken place to anyone's knowledge or to anyone's recollection -- that just didn't happen. ..." Bottom line? It's clear this was Belichick's effort to move into Super Bowl week with nothing but the Seahawks on the agenda. It's safe to assume the media will not cooperate with that effort. And the league's investigation will be a factor in that. So stay tuned.

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Tony Romo Will Help Cowboys Create Cap Space (1/24 1:01 PT)

The Facts: In an effort to create more salary cap space, the Cowboys are expected to restructure Romo’s contract at some point this offseason. That’s how the Cowboys designed their six-year, $108 million contract for Romo two years ago, a deal that has $55 million guaranteed. Essentially, the Cowboys will convert his base salary into a signing bonus to create cap room.  Reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Diehards Line: Romo is scheduled to make $17 million in 2015 with his cap number coming in at $27.7 million, something that will be significantly reduced assuming the Cowboys restructure his deal for the second consecutive offseason. Last year, the Cowboys created about $10 million in cap space by doing so. That decision gives them more flexibility to re-sign their own free agents (Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray), as well as pursue others on the market. Romo set career highs in completion percentage and yards per attempt while leading the Cowboys to a 12-4 record and an NFC East title during a season that ended with a close loss to the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs. He said this week that he needs to be even better next season if the Cowboys are going to get where they want to go.“I think you just figure out how you have to be better," he said. "I have to be better. Our team has to be better. And you have to go attack this thing with everything we got.” Keeping Bryant and Murray in the fold (something Romo is said to be lobbying for) would be a good start (even if keeping both isn't all that realistic).

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Joe Flacco Was Included In Process Of Picking New OC (1/24 1:24 PT)

The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... Flacco will have his fourth offensive coordinator in as many years, in addition to yet another quarterbacks coach. But HC John Harbaugh is confident that Flacco will once again adapt. Harbaugh said one of the big factors in hiring Marc Trestman as OC was because he believes he'll jibe with the leader of the offense in Flacco. Harbaugh even included Flacco in the hiring process, especially in the latter stages, before deciding on Trestman. “Joe’s on board with it. He’s excited about it. He knows Marc’s reputation,” Harbaugh said. Reported by BaltimoreRavens.com

Diehards Line: According to BaltimoreRavens.com's Ryan Mink, Trestman and Flacco seem to be a fit for three main reasons: their way of thinking, their communication and their overall demeanor. Trestman is laid-back and cerebral. Flacco is well-known for his easy-going, calm demeanor, and has connected best with coordinators that share that personality such as Jim Caldwell and Gary Kubiak. It goes beyond personality, extending to how their thought process works. Flacco will also be moving onto his fifth quarterbacks coach as newly-hired Marty Mornhinweg follows Hue Jackson, Jim Zorn, Caldwell and Rick Dennison, respectively. “I know Joe can handle it,” Harbaugh said. “He’s not been afraid of that in the past and I know he can handle it going forward.”

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Bidwill Isn't Worried Cardinals Will Lose Larry Fitzgerald (1/23 3:25 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Fitzgerald’s contract -- and his salary cap number of $23.6 million -- remains unwieldy. But Cardinals president Michael Bidwill isn’t worried that his team could lose its face of the franchise and star wide receiver. "I think there is definitely mutual interest in getting something worked out,” Bidwill said Thursday. “Larry and I have had conversations. I know he’s had conversations with (HC) Bruce (Arians) and (GM) Steve Keim. (Larry) is traveling right now, but I think at the appropriate time we’ll get this worked out." Reported by ArizonaCardinals.com

Diehards Line: As the Sports Xchange suggested this week, Fitzgerald might have lost a step but he's still dangerous. The offense played its best when he and Carson Palmer were hooking up. But for that to continue, that cap figure has to change. Fitzgerald, who recently spoke of his time in Arizona in the past tense, has indicated he's not all that interested in restructuring, but that could just be posturing. Other reports have suggested he's not all that happy with his role in Arians' scheme. Nonetheless, it sounds like the Cardinals will make an effort to keep him around.

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Haslam The Latest To Put Johnny Manziel On Notice (1/23 3:24 PT)

The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... New OC John DeFilippo expressed skepticism Thursday that Johnny Manziel is the answer to the Cleveland Browns' decades-long quarterback problem. The questions about Manziel's future go much higher than the coaching staff. Owner Jimmy Haslam, who was reported to have the gridiron-version of a "love affair" with Manziel last May, no longer carries a torch for his 2014 first-round draft pick. "We've got to get a quarterback and got to get it fixed," Haslam said Thursday night. "What I would say to our fans is, we're going to continue to work really hard to find that quarterback who can make us a championship team."  Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Haslam isn't ruling out Manziel as the 2015 starter, but emphasized that "every option is on the table" including undrafted Week 17 starter Connor Shaw and impending free agent Brian Hoyer. The Browns owe it to themselves to leave no stone unturned after Manziel's rocky rookie season -- on and off the field. But they know that. "Johnny has to show on and off the field he can be a professional," Haslam continued. "He knows that. Everybody in the organization has told him that. It'll be up to Flip and (HC Mike Pettine) to decide whether he can be the kind of quarterback we need him to be. He knows what we expect of him on and off the field, and it's up to him to prove he can do that." As NFL.com's Chris Wesseling suggested, the Browns might be willing to overlook Manziel's extracurricular activities had his limited game film provided any indication that he could emerge as the face of the franchise. That wasn't the case.

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Caldwell Doesn't Think Golden Tate's Role Will Change; But The Numbers Could Rise (1/23 3:22 PT)

The Facts: On the verge of his first Pro Bowl appearance this weekend, Tate could be in for an even better 2015, HC Jim Caldwell said. "It doesn't take a whole year to determine what a guy can do from a schematic standpoint, but I do think that what happens is, guys get more comfortable within the system from quarterback to offensive line to running backs to all those involved, and you should see an uptick," Caldwell said Wednesday. "If we're not playing better than we played this year then obviously all of us are going to be disappointed about that. So I would anticipate in every phase that we're going to be able to improve." Reported by the Detroit Free Press

Diehards Line: Tate caught 99 passes for 1,331 yards last year, and carried the Lions' offense for a long stretch in the first half of the season when Calvin Johnson was out with a high ankle sprain. When Johnson returned, Tate's production dipped over the final two months. He topped 50 yards receiving just once in four December games. Caldwell indicated that Tate's role probably won't change much going forward, but the Lions should be more balanced when Tate and Johnson, who pulled out of the Pro Bowl because of injury, are together on the field.

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The NFL Issues A Statement On Patriots, Deflated Footballs; Investigation Ongoing (1/23 12:54 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... The NFL issued a statement on Friday afternoon in response to inquiries about “Deflategate." The statement opened with: "Our office has been conducting an investigation as to whether the footballs used in last Sunday’s AFC Championship Game complied with the specifications that are set forth in the playing rules. ..." It closed by stating: “Our investigation will seek information from any and all relevant sources and we expect full cooperation from other clubs as well. As we develop more information and are in a position to reach conclusions, we will share them publicly.” Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: The statement also made it clear that upon being advised of the investigation, the Patriots promptly pledged their full cooperation and have made their personnel and other information available to us upon request. In addition, over the past several days, nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, including of Patriots personnel, game officials, and third parties with relevant information and expertise. The league says it has obtained and is continuing to obtain additional information, including video and other electronic information and physical evidence. They have hired outside companies to help with the investigation and to perform forensic work on the video evidence. ... Bottom line? "The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action. ..." Stay tuned.

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GM: Trent Richardson Suspended For Two Games (1/23 12:00 PT)

The Facts: The Colts suspended Richardson for two games, General Manager Ryan Grigson confirmed on Friday. Grigson did not elaborate on the reason for the ban. It wasn’t immediately known whether the suspension would continue on for the 2015 season or whether it would have just encompassed the AFC title game at New England and if the Colts played in Super Bowl XLIX.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: Richardson was deactivated for Sunday’s loss to the Patriots after not traveling with the club. He missed the club’s Saturday walk-through, though Richardson indicated it was for a “serious family emergency,” per ESPN.com. ... For what it's worth, Grigson also did not shed much light on whether Richardson would return for the final year of his contract with Indianapolis, saying he would be evaluated just like other players. Richardson is guaranteed $3.18 million in salary in 2015.

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Witten Has DeMarco Murray's Back; TE Says RB Won't Be Easily Replaced (1/23 10:43 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... There is a theory going around about the Cowboys and their running game that sounded a lot like the theory around the team in the 1990s: You can get just about any running back to have success behind that offensive line. Jason Witten does not subscribe to that theory. At all. “We’ve got good running backs,” he said. “Joe Randle took advantage of every opportunity he got. I think [Lance] Dunbar’s got a great future ahead of him. Obviously the O-line, but I think it would be silly to not give him the credit for what he did. It’s not easy to do that and I think coach [Jason] Garrett said it a few weeks back that he created a mindset for our team and that’s not easy to do. He deserves a lot of that credit, [Murray] does, and so that’s why you want a guy like that back because he stands for everything you want in your football team.”  Reported by ESPN.com

Diehards Line: Murray led the NFL in rushing in 2014 with 1,845 yards, breaking Emmitt Smith’s franchise record for yards in a season, with three Pro Bowlers blocking for him (which plays a role in the above-mentioned theory). But even if Murray is a much better back than his current teammates, finances will play a part in his future. The Cowboys can afford to pay him whatever they want. It will be a question of if they want to pay him big money before the free-agent market opens. Witten will do everything he can to make sure Murray stays. The two developed a tighter relationship in 2014 as workout partners in the offseason. “You don’t invest that time just for one year,” Witten said. “You’re really thinking big picture. ...” It would be nice if the Cowboys agreed with Witten. But expecting them to break the bank to keep Murray is a reach.

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Jimmy Graham Has No Plans For Shoulder Surgery... As Of Now (1/23 12:13 PT)

The Facts: Graham showed no signs of discomfort on Thursday afternoon, running around and catching passes in the first Pro Bowl practice of the week. However, he is still in the process of rehabbing the shoulder he injured this past season. After the Pro Bowl, he'll go back to Miami to train, relax and continue the work he's been doing to heal the injury. Graham said "as of (Thursday)," there were no plans to have offseason surgery, however it was discussed. Reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Diehards Line: If he had the surgery, he wouldn't have gone to the Pro Bowl at all, he said. "It's something we talked about and is something that's still being debated," he said. "This is kind of a trial to see where I'm at. I've had three weeks off and I've finally had some time to heal. It feels great, and I'm going to continue to do my rehab and get back to 100 percent." While Graham's shoulder was reportedly sprained, the pain never went away all season. Graham was criticized for his play toward the end of the season. At times, it appeared as if he was attempting to catch passes one handed to favor his good shoulder. However, he never missed a game, finishing with 85 receptions for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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Mark Ingram Still Hopeful About Remaining A Saint (1/22 9:26 PT)

The Facts: Coming off his best season as a pro, Ingram is headed toward free agency, but hopes he doesn't have to change addresses. "I'm looking forward to getting a new deal," Ingram said Thursday from Pro Bowl practice. "Hopefully I'm with the Saints, man. They drafted me and I'd love to be with New Orleans for my career." Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Ingram believes the interest is mutual, adding "they said they want me back." The running back said he hasn't spoken to the team since the Saints' season ended. ... Ingram racked up 964 yards on the ground on 226 attempts and nine touchdowns -- all career highs. He missed three games due to a shoulder injury that sapped some of his power down the stretch. However, the running back's 74.2 yards per game were good for eighth in the NFL. After a disappointing start to his career, the Saints declined to pick up the fifth-year option on the 2011 first-round pick's contract, making him a free agent in March. Ingram insists his first Pro Bowl-year wasn't a result of motivation, but rather of opportunity. Ingram hopes he'll get even more opportunities in a Saints jersey in the future. ... We shall see.

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Whaley: Time For EJ Manuel To Take The Next Step (1/22 5:08 PT)

The Facts: After plenty of friction with his last head coach, Bills general manager Doug Whaley is excited about Buffalo's new hire. Whaley told scribes at the Senior Bowl that he and Rex Ryan are "aligned" in their roster-building plans. The shared vision between Whaley and Ryan is critical under center, where the team must decide what to do with young EJ Manuel. "We have to give (Manuel) a fair enough shake to show his wares in game situations, but he's also got to make that step," Whaley said.  Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Ryan told reporters last week that Buffalo's QB situation is "unresolved." Suspicions that Whaley might force Manuel down Ryan's throat are subsiding after the GM's admission that "it's a two-way street" for the quarterback. "This is that third year," the GM said of his QB. "He knows that this is the chance where he's got to basically step up or he's probably not going to be a starting quarterback in this league. ..." Even if you believe the latter is the more likely outcome, the fact that Whaley readily admits it should help the exec and coach get off to a more solid start.

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49ers Hire Mangini To Be Their Next DC (1/22 5:03 PT)

The Facts: Eric Mangini has a new job, on the same team. Manigni is expected to become the defensive coordinator of the 49ers, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: As PFT suggests, that comes as a bit of a surprise because there were previous reports that new 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula would almost completely overhaul the staff after taking over from former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Mangini spent the last two years on Harbaugh’s staff, although he was working on the offensive side of the ball under Harbaugh. Most of Mangini’s prior experience, however, is as a defensive coach, and now he’ll get the opportunity to run the defense in San Francisco. Mangini was previously the defensive coordinator of the Patriots and spent time as a defensive assistant for the Jets before that.

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Tom Brady Insists He Didn't Alter Footballs In Any Way (1/22 4:06 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Brady insists he didn't "alter the ball in any way" during last week's AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts. Asked point-blank if he is a cheater, Brady replied, "I don't believe so. ... I would never do anything to break the rules." Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Addressing the NFL's investigation of overly deflated footballs, Brady explained that he went through the same process he always does. Once the equipment team gets the balls ready, Brady chooses the ones he wants to use. After that, he doesn't want anybody handling the footballs. Brady later added that he's "very comfortable" stating that nobody did anything wrong, to his knowledge. As Profootballtalk.com notes, Brady also said that no one from the NFL has contacted him as of Thursday, four days after the league discovered the under-inflated footballs during halftime. ... So the saga will continued. Stay tuned.

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Dolphins Sold On Ryan Tannehill As Their QB Of The Future (1/22 1:31 PT)

The Facts: Tannehill is technically entering a contract year. But after glowing praise from general manager Dennis Hickey on Wednesday, it’s clear Tannehill isn’t going anywhere. Hickey, addressing South Florida media after the Senior Bowl’s morning practice, said: “We are excited about [Tannehill’s] future as a Dolphin. ... We saw a lot of progress [in 2014].” Reported by the Miami Herald

Diehards Line: Translation (according to Herald staffer Adam Beasley): Expect the Dolphins, at the very least, to pick up the fifth-year option on Tannehill’s rookie contract, a $15 million commitment to their young leader that will be guaranteed in the case of injury. The QB finished with 4,045 yards passing, 27 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 92.8 rating this season. Hickey, always cautious with his words, would not commit to the move Wednesday, but many around the league believe it’s a foregone conclusion.

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