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  • Colts' Luck says he won't need second surgery
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, February 21, 2018

    Andrew Luck is optimistic about the state of his surgically repaired right shoulder.

    • The Indianapolis Colts quarterback said Tuesday that he does not need another operation on his throwing shoulder. The comments came as part of a taped interview with Sports Illustrated's Peter King that aired at a Colts town-hall meeting in Indianapolis.

      Asked about the possibility of another operation, Luck said, "Oh, that is not an option for me right now. That ship has sailed in my mind, which is also a bit of relief now, if I'm not going to lie."

      Luck, 28, missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery in January 2017. In the fall, he spent more than a month rehabbing in the Netherlands, and now he is working out in Los Angeles with throwing-mechanics experts Tom House and Adam Dedeaux.

      "I'm in the middle of sort of a little bit of throwing, but strengthening and preparing my shoulder to be able to handle the throw load that is part of being an NFL quarterback," he said. "The focus right now is still strengthening all those muscles and making sure my shoulder can handle that."

      Luck added, "I feel awesome, I really do. I'm in a great place. It's been a long journey, and it'll still be a long journey to hopefully get done whatever we need to get done in Indianapolis. ...

      "One thing I've learned through the last couple of years is you can't skip steps. You have to do everything as well as possible. I have to catch myself, as much as I wanna grab a ball and throw it a million times, I know I have to build up to be able to handle that. And right now I'm in that building phase. And it's exciting."

      Luck said he is looking forward to working with new Colts head coach Frank Reich, who has a strong reputation of developing quarterbacks.

      Reich said he would love to see Luck succeed in his goal of participating in team workouts in late April.

      "You know what, I'm hopeful that maybe that could happen," Reich said. "I'm hopeful, yeah. I know it sounds odd, but I'm not demanding an answer on that. I'm not, 'Hey, someone tell me, is he ready?'

      "I hope he's there, but we'll go on if he's not. I'm optimistic and I'm hopeful, but honestly that's not the forefront question on my mind every day coming to work."

      Luck, selected No. 1 overall by Colts in the 2012 NFL Draft, made the Pro Bowl each of his first three seasons. In June 2016, he signed a six-year, $140 million contract extension, receiving a guaranteed $87 million, a deal that at the time was the richest in NFL history.

      --Field Level Media

  • Dolphins place franchise tag on 3-time Pro Bowl WR Landry
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    In what may be a stepping stone to a renegotiated deal to come, the Miami Dolphins announced they have placed the franchise tag on Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

    • "We have placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry," the team tweeted on Tuesday.

      According to the Palm Beach Post, the Dolphins plan to use the non-exclusive tag that would guarantee Landry, 25, a 2018 salary projected at approximately $16.2 million if he signed the contract. If Landry decided not to sign in Miami, he could negotiate with other teams, who would then be required to give two first-round picks to the Dolphins in return.

      Per Pro Football Talk, teams can choose to use the tags until March 6. The Dolphins would then have until mid-July to sign Landry to an extension.

      Landry has made the Pro Bowl in three of his four NFL seasons and has an NFL-record 400 receptions through his four seasons. He caught a career-high 112 passes, which led the NFL, last season in snagging over 100 passes in a season for the second time in his brief career. In his four seasons, Landry has 4,038 receiving yards and 22 touchdown catches for Miami.

      --Field Level Media

  • Former Packers great Carr dead at 71
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Former Green Bay Packers linebacker Fred Carr passed away Monday at the age of 71.

    • His daughter, Karsetta Carr, said he had been suffering from dementia and prostate cancer.

      A member of the Green Bay Hall of Fame, Carr was drafted fifth overall in 1968. He played his entire nine-year career with Green Bay, terrorizing offenses with uncanny speed for a 6-foot-5, 250-pound linebacker.

      A product of Phoenix Union High School in south Phoenix, the three-sport prep star first played college ball at Phoenix College, where he won a national championship, before moving on to play football and basketball at University of Texas El-Paso.

      His legacy in south Phoenix continued after his playing days.

      His nephews Brian and Terry Carr became local stars before moving on to college basketball (Brian played at UConn) and football (Terry played at Tennessee before joining the NFL).

      Craig Liston, his former quarterback at Phoenix College, says Carr remained a local legend.

      "If you said, 'Freddie,' everyone knew who you were talking about," Liston told AZcentral.com. "Everyone knew Freddie Carr. He was always caring. He was the life of the party. Everybody wanted to be around Freddie. His personality was bigger than himself."

      Funeral services will be held March 3.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL Notebook: Buccaneers release RB Martin
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday released veteran running back Doug Martin.

    • Martin, 29, spent six seasons with the Buccaneers but struggled in 2017, rushing for 407 yards on 2.9 yards per carry in 11 games. In the final weeks of the regular season, Martin was benched in favor of running back Peyton Barber.

      Martin was second in the NFL in rushing in 2015, and signed a five-year deal worth $35.75 million prior to the 2016 season. The move will reportedly save the Buccanneers nearly $7 million in 2018.

      The Buccaneers also released defensive tackle Chris Baker, who spent one season with the team after six with the Redskins.

      --Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh will be promoted to offensive coordinator, according to multiple reports.

      Groh replaces Frank Reich, who was hired as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. The Eagles also reportedly interviewed running backs coach Duce Staley for the offensive coordinator position before ultimately deciding to promote Groh. Staley's job title was changed to assistant head coach, according to a report from ESPN's Josina Anderson.

      --The Houston Texans officially cut veteran linebacker Brian Cushing, reportedly saving the team $7.64 million under the salary cap by making the move before the start of the new league year on March 14.

      Cushing, 31, spent his first nine seasons with the Texans after they selected him No. 15 overall in the 2009 draft. Cushing was the franchise's all-time leading tackler with 664 tackles, 13 1/2 sacks and eight interceptions in 104 games.

      --The Jacksonville Jaguars are picking up the 2018 option on tight end Marcedes Lewis.

      Lewis, 33, is entering his 13th season with the Jaguars after he was selected 28th overall in the 2008 draft. He caught 24 passes for 318 yards and five touchdowns while starting all 16 regular-season games in 2017.

      --The Tennessee Titans agreed to a five-year contract with kicker Ryan Succop.

      The deal is worth $20 million with $7.5 million guaranteed, according to the NFL Network.

      --The Chicago Bears released linebacker Jerrell Freeman, following two violations of the NFL's performance-enhancing substances policy.

      Freeman, 31, was suspended for 10 games in 2017 for his second violation. He was also suspended four games in 2016 for his first offense. He played in just one game last season after tearing a pectoral muscle in the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

      --The Eagles have applied paperwork with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for official trademark rights to the phrase "Philly Special," according to a report from ESPN.

      The Eagles are hoping to earn an exclusive trademark on the name of the trick play that culminated with quarterback Nick Foles catching a key touchdown pass at the end of the first half of the Eagles' 41-33 win in Super Bowl LII.

      -- The Chicago Bears opted to decline Josh Sitton's $8 million option for the 2018 season, sending the veteran offensive guard into free agency.

      Sitton spent two seasons with the Bears after playing for the Green Bay Packers from 2008-2015.

      --Field Level Media

  • Titans K Succop receives five-year deal
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    The Tennessee Titans announced Tuesday that they agreed to a five-year contract with kicker Ryan Succop.

    • The deal is worth $20 million with $7.5 million guaranteed, according to the NFL Network.

      Succop, 31, was scheduled to become a free agent next month.

      Succop established career highs for points (136) and field goals (35) last season. The prior season, he made a career-best 91.7 percent (22 of 24) of his field-goal attempts.

      Succop also set a record by making 56 consecutive field goals from inside 50 yards from 2014-17 before a 48-yard miss against the Cincinnati Bengals in mid-November ended the streak.

      In four seasons with the Titans, Succop has converted 90 of 104 field-goal attempts, an 86.5 percent accuracy rate.

      Succop spent his first five NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (2009-13) before joining the Titans prior to the 2014 season. He has scored 913 career points.

      --Field Level Media

  • Buccaneers release DT Baker after one season
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Defensive tackle Chris Baker was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday.

    • Baker spent the bulk of his career in six seasons with the Washington Redskins (2011-16) after playing in one game each with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and Miami Dolphins in 2010. He signed a three-year, $15.75 million contract -- $6 million guaranteed -- with the Bucs last offseason.

      Releasing Baker will save $4.875 million against the 2018 salary cap, who would have been guaranteed $3 million on the fifth day of the league year next month.

      Baker, 30, was signed to add depth to a defensive line anchored by 3-technique Gerald McCoy. He had 30 tackles in 15 games in 2017.

      Earlier Tuesday, the Buccaneers officially announced the release of running back Doug Martin, saving another $6.75 million.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bears decline OG Sitton's $8M option
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Offensive guard Josh Sitton will become a free agent next month after the Chicago Bears opted to decline an $8 million option for the 2018 season.

    • Sitton spent two seasons with the Bears but will shop for a third team in three years. He played for the Green Bay Packers from 2008-2015, starting the final 64 consecutive games.

      Sitton said he met with general manager Ryan Pace directly. The team had until March 9 to decline the option in Sitton's contract.

      Sitton missed the final two games of the 2017 season with an ankle injury but told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday that he's 100 percent healthy entering free agency.

      "I am planning on playing and hitting free agency and continuing to play at a high level," Sitton said. "I believe I have prime years left."

      The Bears are going younger but expect to keep guard Kyle Long despite a string of recent surgeries. Pace said there is no timetable for Long to return to the field.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cushing cut by Texans, shares heartfelt message to fans
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    The Houston Texans officially cut longtime linebacker Brian Cushing Tuesday.

    • The transaction will reportedly save the team $7.64 million under the salary cap by making the move before the start of the new league year on March 14.

      After the previously reported release became official, Cushing addressed the Texans organization and fans in an Instagram post:

      In the post, Cushing wrote:

      "For some reason you always think this day will never come. You wish you could play forever and never have to worry about not wearing that jersey again. Anyone who says that 'it's just a game,' is full of (crap). This is my lifestyle, my profession, my heart and soul. There wasn't a day in 9 years I didn't thank God for allowing me to compete as a Texan. You can say a lot of things about me, but I left it all out there every single Sunday. I would do anything to try and be out there for the fans and my teammates. It's the ultimate team game where you have to love and trust all 11 guys on the field that their intention is to win and not let each other down.

      "Thank you Houston for embracing me like a son from Day 1. From getting married here to having both our boys born here. We couldn't have asked for a better place to experience both of those life changing moments. It was the toughest, yet best 9 years of my life. Thank you to the McNair family for drafting me here and changing my life forever. I could not have asked for better ownership, a family that truly cares about their players. Thank you to Rick Smith and Coach Kubiak for originally bringing me here and helping me grow up both on and off the field. Thank you Coach O'Brien and Brian Gaine for allowing me to continue to live out my dream. I apologize I wasn't able to bring a Super Bowl to Houston, but I can tell you they are not far off. Once again thank you for an incredible 9 years and memories that will last a lifetime."

      Cushing, 31, spent his first nine seasons with the Texans after they selected him in the first round (No. 15 overall) out of Southern California in 2009. He made the Pro Bowl in his first season and was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year.

      "Brian Cushing has meant a great deal to the McNair family and few players have meant more to the Texans franchise over the course of the last nine seasons," said Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Cal McNair in a team statement. "His work ethic, toughness and leadership, not only as a member of the team, but in the Houston community, is to be commended, especially his dedication to the military and their families. Brian will always be part of the Texans family."

      Houston signed Cushing to a six-year, $52.5 million deal in 2013, but his production was stunted by injuries and suspensions. Cushing was suspended 10 games last season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, which marked his second career infraction for PED use.

      In 104 career games with Houston, Cushing was the franchise's all-time leading tackler with 664 tackles, 13 1/2 sacks and eight interceptions. He plans to keep playing, with the Houston Chronicle citing a text from Cushing before the move became official.

      --Field Level Media

  • Eagles apply for trademark rights to 'Philly Special'
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    The Philadelphia Eagles are hoping to cash in on one of the most famous trick plays in NFL history.

    • The first-time Super Bowl champions have applied paperwork with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for official trademark rights to the phrase "Philly Special" -- the name of the trick play that culminated with quarterback Nick Foles catching a key touchdown pass during the Eagles' 41-33 win in Super Bowl LII.

      The Eagles are not alone in seeking ownership of the phrase: Seven other parties applied for rights before the team vying to use the phrase for business purposes. According to the patent office's official website, other hopeful parties include people from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Florida, in addition to Pennsylvania-based brewing company Yuengling.

      According to ESPN, the process of evaluation and decision may not happen for another 12 months, although the Eagles have already sold merchandise bearing the phrase shortly after their Super Bowl victory on Feb. 4.

      The Eagles did not return requests for comment.

      The famous Super Bowl play happened on a critical fourth-and-goal at the New England Patriots' 1-yard line with just over 30 seconds left in the first half with the Eagles clinging to a 15-12 lead. Instead of attempting a short field goal before halftime, the Eagles went for it in grand style, with a direct snap to third-string running back Corey Clement, who then flipped a lateral to third-string tight end Trey Burton (a former college QB at Florida), who then passed to a wide-open Foles in the end zone for a stunning score that extended Philadelphia's lead to 10 points.

      --Field Level Media

  • Eagles to name Groh as OC, Staley as assistant head coach
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh will be named offensive coordinator, replacing new Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich, according to multiple media reports.

    • Groh and running backs coach Duce Staley interviewed Monday with head coach Doug Pederson, who will remain the team's primary play-caller.

      Groh, a former college quarterback, was praised by Eagles players at the Super Bowl for his ability to break communication down at a "player to player" level. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who also played under Groh as a position coach with the Chicago Bears, credited Groh with helping the offensive develop quickly.

      Jeffery and Torrey Smith were in their first seasons with the Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz in 2017.

      Philadelphia lost Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo within a week of winning Super Bowl LII. Reich became a first-time head coach last week, joining the Colts after Indianapolis' failed attempt to hire New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

      Staley will remain with the team as running backs coach, in addition to adding the title of assistant head coach, according to multiple reports. Originally hired by Andy Reid as special teams quality control coach in 2011 after serving as a coaching intern, Staley stayed with the team through regime changes to Chip Kelly and Pederson.

      In his playing days, Staley was an Eagles fan favorite after spending seven of his 10 NFL seasons with Philadelphia (1997-2003), running for over 1,000 yards in a season three times. Staley played his final three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2004-06) and was part of the Steelers' Super Bowl XL championship team.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bears release twice-suspended LB Freeman
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    The Chicago Bears released linebacker Jerrell Freeman on Tuesday, parting ways with a player who twice violated the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

    • Freeman drew a 10-game suspension last season for his second violation. He was also suspended four games in 2016 for his first offense.

      The 31-year-old Freeman was voted a team captain before the 2017 opener after he recorded a team-best 110 tackles in 2016 despite his suspension. He played in just one game last season after tearing a pectoral muscle in the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

      Freeman was slated to earn $3.5 million this season in the final year of a three-year, $12 million deal.

      Freeman played his first four NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Bears as a free agent. He has 12 career sacks and four interceptions in 70 NFL games (all starts).

      If Freeman tests positive a third time, he will receive a two-year ban.

      --Field Level Media

  • Jaguars pick up option on TE Lewis
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    The Jacksonville Jaguars are picking up the option on tight end Marcedes Lewis, who will spend his 13th season with the team in 2018.

    • The team also exercised its options on reserve offensive linemen Josh Wells and Tyler Shatley, according to the Florida Times-Union.

      Lewis, 33, caught 24 passes for 318 yards and five touchdowns in starting all 16 regular-season games in 2017. He also caught a touchdown against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

      A big receiving threat earlier in his career, Lewis has transitioned into a reliable blocker. The first-round pick in 2006 will earn $3.5 million in base salary next season.

      Wells, 27, was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2013 out of James Madison. He started four games last season, including three at right tackle when Jeremy Parnell was injured. Wells also started the regular-season finale at left tackle in place of injured Cam Robinson.

      Shatley, 26, signed as an undrafted rookie out of Clemson the same year as Wells. He has started four games in each of the past two seasons, including three at center last season when Brandon Linder was sidelined by an illness.

      --Field Level Media

  • Buccaneers release RB Martin
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Running back Doug Martin was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday.

    • Martin spent six seasons with the team but he had only 827 total rushing yards the past two seasons on the heels of a 1,402-yard season in 2015 that led to a five-year deal worth $35.75 million. Martin made $15 million in guarantees. He was second in the NFL in rushing in 2015.

      Martin turned 29 on Jan. 13 but has relatively low miles for the position at his age -- 1,150 total carries. By comparison, 29-year-old Bills running back LeSean McCoy has 2,185 career carries plus 441 receptions.

      Peyton Barber finished 2017 as the starting running back for the Buccaneers, but head coach Dirk Koetter said last month the position is one the team will be "looking at" this offseason.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: Carruth apologizes for murder, wants custody of son
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 19, 2018

    Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth, convicted in 2001 for conspiracy in the 1999 murder of the woman pregnant with his child, has penned a letter to the woman's mother in which he accepted responsibility for the crime and expressed his desire for custody of his son.

    • The 15-page letter was published Monday by CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV, to whom Carruth sent the letter. According to the outlet, Carruth had previously written letters to the woman, Saundra Adams, but had never received a response.

      Carruth was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison after he was found guilty on three charges related to the shooting death of Cherica Adams in November 1999. Adams was eight months pregnant at the time. During trial, prosecutors explained that Carruth did not want to pay child support and hired a hitman to kill Adams. Adams, however, lived for a month after the shooting and delivered the child. The boy, Chancellor Lee Adams, was born with cerebral palsy as a result of his mother's gunshot injuries.

      Carruth is scheduled to be released from prison in October and in the letter said he believes he should get custody of Chancellor Adams, who is now 18 but in need of care. Cherica's mother Saundra Adams, who has raised Chancellor his whole life, responded on Twitter saying she has forgiven Rae but adding, "I can say definitively he's not ever going to have custody of Chancellor."

      --There was no Super Bowl surprise for the New England Patriots when cornerback Malcolm Butler did not start the game.

      Safety Devin McCourty, a defensive captain since his second season in the league, said Butler was aware he would not start against the Philadelphia Eagles. Eric Rowe got the nod, despite Butler playing 97.8 percent of defensive snaps in the regular season.

      "As far as I know, all of that is the furthest thing from the truth," McCourty said. "We all knew he wasn't starting all week. That wasn't a secret to the guys on the team."

      --In-house candidates Duce Staley and Mike Groh will reportedly interview with Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson for the team's vacant offensive coordinator position Monday.

      ESPN reported Pederson will interview Staley, who played for the team and serves as running backs coach, and Groh, wide receivers coach and the son of Al Groh, for the post vacated by new Colts head coach Frank Reich.

      Staley, 42, joined the coaching staff in Philadelphia in 2011 under head coach Andy Reid and remained with the franchise under Chip Kelly and Pederson. Groh, 46, joined the Eagles in 2017 and previously held the same title coaching receivers with the Chicago Bears (2013-15) and Los Angeles Rams (2016). Pederson will remain the team's playcaller.

      --Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater calls 2017 "my favorite season" in the NFL despite playing no meaningful snaps last year.

      Of course, you have to put Bridgewater's comments in context after he missed the entire 2016 season recovering from a career-threatening knee injury.

      "It was probably my favorite season by far, even though I didn't play much," Bridgewater said, per Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com. "This season challenged my mindset because as bad as I wanted to be out there playing -- being the competitor that I am, I wanted to go to war and go to battle with my guys -- I had to be out there in a different aspect. I had to be there for the guys mentally.

      "It gave me a different role and I accepted it. It was one that was hard to accept because I'm a competitor, but I wouldn't trade this year for nothing."

      --The Minnesota Vikings officially hired former Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing as senior offensive assistant, the team announced Monday.

      Downing, who is entering his 18th NFL season, rejoins the Vikings in 2018 after last coaching with the club in 2005. The Eden Prairie, Minn., native held multiple posts during his five-year stint with Minnesota from 2001-05.

      Downing, 37, served as the Raiders' offensive coordinator last season after spending two years as quarterbacks coach. He was not retained by the Raiders when the team hired Jon Gruden as head coach in January.

      --Field Level Media

  • Carruth apologizes for murder, wants custody of son when released from prison
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 19, 2018

    Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth, convicted in 2001 for conspiracy in the 1999 murder of the woman pregnant with his child, has penned a letter to the woman's mother in which he accepted responsibility for the crime and expressed his desire for custody of his son.

    • The 15-page letter was published Monday by CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV, to whom Carruth sent the letter. According to the outlet, Carruth had previously written letters to the woman, Saundra Adams, but had never received a response.

      Carruth was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison after he was found guilty on three charges related to the shooting death of Cherica Adams in November 1999. Adams was eight months pregnant at the time. During trial, prosecutors explained that Carruth did not want to pay child support and hired a hitman to kill Adams.

      Adams, however, lived for a month after the shooting and delivered the child. The boy, Chancellor Lee Adams, was born with cerebral palsy as a result of his mother's gunshot injuries.

      Carruth is scheduled to be released from prison in October and in the letter said he believes he should get custody of Chancellor Adams, who is now 18 but in need of care.

      Saundra Adams, who has raised Chancellor his whole life, responded to that part of Carruth's letter later Monday.

      "I've forgiven Rae already, but to have any type of relationship with him, there does have to be some repentance," Adams said. "And I think this opens the door. But I can say definitively he's not ever going to have custody of Chancellor. Chancellor will be raised either by me or, after I'm gone, by someone else who loves him and who knows him. He will never be raised by a stranger -- someone he doesn't know and who tried to kill him."

      According to WBTV, which also interviewed Carruth, the now-44-year-old plans to move to California and live a private life.

      "If I could change anything, I'd change the whole situation. His mother would still be here and I wouldn't be where I'm at. So that's what I'd want to change. I want the incident to never have happened at all," Carruth said.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Eagles to interview in-house candidates Staley, Groh for OC gig
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 19, 2018

    In-house candidates Duce Staley and Mike Groh will reportedly interview with Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson for the team's vacant offensive coordinator position Monday.

    • ESPN reported Pederson will interview Staley, who played for the team and serves as running backs coach, and Groh, wide receivers coach and the son of Al Groh, for the post vacated by new Colts head coach Frank Reich.

      Staley, 42, joined the coaching staff in Philadelphia in 2011 under head coach Andy Reid and remained with the franchise under Chip Kelly and Pederson.

      Groh, 46, joined the Eagles in 2017 and previously held the same title coaching receivers with the Chicago Bears (2013-15) and Los Angeles Rams (2016).

      Pederson will remain as the team's play-caller.

      NFL Network reported after the Super Bowl that Pederson would not fill the offensive coordinator position if Reich was hired by the Colts.

      ESPN's Tim McManus indicated Staley and Groh could each be elevated to co-offensive coordinator with a split along the lines of running game coordinator and passing game coordinator.

      --Field Level Media

  • Vikings hire Downing as senior offensive assistant
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 19, 2018

    The Minnesota Vikings officially hired former Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing as senior offensive assistant, the team announced Monday.

    • Downing, who is entering his 18th NFL season, rejoins the Vikings in 2018 after last coaching with the club in 2005. The Eden Prairie, Minn., native held multiple posts during his five-year stint with Minnesota from 2001-05.

      Downing, 37, served as the Raiders' offensive coordinator last season after spending two years as quarterbacks coach. He was not retained by the Raiders when the team hired Jon Gruden as head coach in January.

      In Minnesota, Downing will join newly hired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in replacing Pat Shurmur, who guided the Vikings' offense to a terrific 2017 campaign before leaving to be the New York Giants' head coach. The Vikings also retained quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski, who wasn't permitted to interview to be Shurmur's offensive coordinator with the Giants.

      During his Oakland tenure, Downing helped Derek Carr develop into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. But Carr and the Raiders' offense took a major step back last season.

      Prior to his stint in Oakland, Downing coached quarterbacks for the Buffalo Bills (2014) and Detroit Lions (2011-13). He also served as the Lions' offensive quality control coach in 2009 and assistant quarterbacks coach in 2010.

      Before working with quarterbacks, Downing served as a defensive assistant and assistant special teams coach with the St. Louis Rams from 2006-07. In 2008, he was named assistant secondary/defensive quality control coach in St. Louis.

      Downing got his start at the NFL level on former Vikings head coach Mike Tice's staff, where he worked as an intern and coaching assistant from 2001-02 and as a football systems analyst from 2003- 04. He was named offensive quality control coach for the Vikings in 2005.

      Before he entered the NFL ranks, Downing began his coaching career with his alma mater, Eden Prairie High School, from 1999-2000. In 2000, he helped lead the school to the Minnesota Class 5-A state title.

      --Field Level Media

  • Vikings' Bridgewater: 2017 'my favorite season' in NFL
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 19, 2018

    Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater calls 2017 "my favorite season" in the NFL despite playing no meaningful snaps last year.

    • Of course, you have to put Bridgewater's comments in context after he missed the entire 2016 season recovering from a career-threatening knee injury.

      "It was probably my favorite season by far, even though I didn't play much," Bridgewater said, per Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com. "This season challenged my mindset because as bad as I wanted to be out there playing, being the competitor that I am, I wanted to go to war and go to battle with my guys, I had to be out there in a different aspect. I had to be there for the guys mentally.

      "It gave me a different role and I accepted it. It was one that was hard to accept because I'm a competitor, but I wouldn't trade this year for nothing."

      Last week, Bridgewater posted a series of photos on Twitter from the 2017 season with the caption "Humble Servant."

      The 25-year-old Bridgewater, who is set to become a free agent on March 14, said at the end of the season he "without a doubt" wants to start in 2018. He was demoted to No. 3 quarterback during the playoffs, inviting the notion the Vikings don't view him as a starter going forward.

      --Field Level Media

  • McCourty: Patriots knew Butler would sit in Super Bowl LII
    By Field Level Media / Monday, February 19, 2018

    There was no Super Bowl surprise for the New England Patriots when cornerback Malcolm Butler did not start the game.

    • Safety Devin McCourty, a defensive captain since his second season in the league, said Butler was aware he would not start against the Philadelphia Eagles. Eric Rowe got the nod, despite Butler playing 97.8 percent of defensive snaps in the regular season.

      "As far as I know, all of that is the furthest thing from the truth," McCourty said. "We all knew he wasn't starting all week. That wasn't a secret to the guys on the team."

      However, McCourty told NJ Advance Media that none of the floated theories he has heard about why Butler didn't start are accurate. He said Butler, who is an unrestricted free agent unlikely to stay with the Patriots, was not ill, nor did he skip team functions to attend a concert or show up late to meetings.

      "I get why people are fishing. The guy played 98 percent of the plays. I just hate that for him character-wise going into free agency. It's just not true. As far as I know -- and I was there all week -- not one time did anything come up," McCourty said.

      Butler said the Patriots "gave up on me" and has not been pleased the Patriots did not defend or clarify the decision after the loss to the Eagles.

      "It sucked for him," McCourty said of Butler. "He put a lot of time and effort in. However it falls, the last thing you want to do is not play a snap. To me, the worst part was to see all that (anonymous) stuff come out after."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Texans will release LB Cushing
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 18, 2018

    The Houston Texans have told linebacker Brian Cushing that he will be released before the new league year begins March 14, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

    • Cushing, 31, spent his first nine seasons with the Texans after they selected him in the first round (No. 15 overall) out of Southern California in 2009. He made the Pro Bowl in his first season and was the NFL's defensive rookie of the year.

      Houston signed Cushing to a six-year, $52.5 million deal in 2013, but his production was stunted by injuries and suspensions. Cushing was suspended 10 games last season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, which marked his second career infraction for PEDs.

      In 104 career games for Houston, Cushing had 674 tackles, 13 1/2 sacks and eight interceptions. He plans to keep playing.

      "It's all good," Cushing told the Chronicle in a text message after learning of his pending release. "It's just part of the business."

      The Texans reportedly will save $7.64 million under the salary cap by releasing Cushing. The rapid development of second-year linebackers Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole helped the front office decide it was time to part ways with the veteran.

      --Field Level Media

  • Family version of 'Brady' Super Bowl ring sells for $344,927
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, February 18, 2018

    A family version of the New England Patriots' Super Bowl LI championship ring -- including 265 diamonds compared to the official 283 -- with "Brady" on it sold Sunday morning for a record $344,927.

    • The ring, when compared to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's actual ring, is about 10 percent smaller but has the same engraving that Brady's ring would have, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell.

      A record for a football ring, it comes with a letter of appraisal from its maker, Jostens, for Brady that assesses its jewelry value at $29,700, according to the report.

      Ken Goldin, president of Goldin Auctions, which sold the ring, would not confirm to ESPN who consigned the ring or how it was obtained. Goldin said the buyer prefers to remain anonymous.

      "This is the first Brady award that has ever come to market," Goldin said earlier this year. "He never lets things go and nobody from his inner circle has ever given up something like this."

      The previous record paid for an NFL championship ring was the Super Bowl XXV ring of New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor that sold for $230,401 in 2012.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Vikings to hire ex-Raiders OC Downing as assistant
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 17, 2018

    The Minnesota Vikings are expected to hire former Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing as a senior offensive assistant, according to Sirius XM's Adam Caplan.

    • An Eden Prairie native, Downing began his NFL coaching career in Minnesota, holding three different positions from 2001 to 2005. He spent time with the Rams, Lions and Bills before joining the Raiders as quarterbacks coach in 2015.

      Downing, 37, was not retained by the Raiders when the team hired Jon Gruden as its new head coach in January. A report in December called it "a near certainty" that Downing would be fired after the season even if previous head coach Jack Del Rio was not fired.

      Quarterback Derek Carr and the Raiders' offense took a major step back in 2017, Downing's first season as a coordinator, a year after the unit thrived under then-coordinator Bill Musgrave. Oakland chose last offseason not to retain Musgrave, whose contract expired, promoting Downing from QBs coach to OC instead.

      The Raiders finished 2017 ranked 23rd in points per game and tied for 17th in yards, down from seventh and sixth, respectively, in 2016. Carr's QB rating dropped more than 10 points (96.7 to 86.4), and he threw interceptions on a career-high 2.5 percent of his passes.

      In Minnesota, Downing will join newly hired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in replacing Pat Shurmur, who guided the Vikings' offense to a terrific 2017 campaign before leaving to be the New York Giants' head coach. The Vikings also retained quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski, who wasn't permitted to interview to be Shurmur's offensive coordinator with the Giants.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Eagles give Wisniewski bonus to make up for missed incentive
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 17, 2018

    The Philadelphia Eagles, still riding high on the team's first-ever Super Bowl title, reportedly did one of their key players a solid on Saturday.

    • Guard Stefen Wisniewski, who narrowly missed meeting the playing time requirements for a $250,000 incentive, will instead receive the money as a signing bonus for 2018, according to NFL Network's Mike Garofolo.

      Wisniewski was hampered late in the season by an ankle injury but was able to help carry the Eagles on their playoff run. He was hurt early in the team's Super Bowl win against the Patriots, leaving the game for a stretch before returning to the lineup.

      The Eagles will reportedly take cap hits of $125,000 each of the next two seasons because of the bonus.

      Wisniewski, who moved from center to left guard when he joined the Eagles two seasons ago, started 11 of the 14 regular-season games he played in this season. He played in all three of the Eagles' playoff games.

      The 28-year-old was a second-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2011.

      --Field Level Media

  • Chiefs ink former Raiders CB Amerson
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, February 17, 2018

    The Kansas City Chiefs announced the signing of free-agent cornerback David Amerson on Friday.

    • The deal is for one year and $2.25 million in base salary, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport adds that Amerson could make up to $6 million on the pact.

      Amerson was released midway through his four-year contract earlier this month by the Oakland Raiders, who saved $21 million against the salary cap over the next three seasons by making the move.

      Amerson started six games in 2017, missing the Raiders' final eight contests with a foot injury. The 26-year-old enjoyed a career season in 2015, totaling 25 passes defensed and four interceptions for Oakland that season.

      Amerson was a second-round pick by the Washington Redskins in the 2013 draft. He joined the Raiders on a waiver claim in 2015.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: ESPN, Fox pursuing Manning as analyst
    By Field Level Media / Friday, February 16, 2018

    Both ESPN and Fox are reportedly pursuing Peyton Manning to be their prime-time game analyst this season.

    • ESPN's "Monday Night Football" is still looking to replace Jon Gruden after he left the booth to return to the sidelines as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Fox has not announced who will call its new "Thursday Night Football" package.

      Manning's decision to possibly enter the TV booth remains an intriguing storyline, and he would be the top choice for both networks, sources told the New York Post on Friday.

      Manning has been approached multiple times about becoming a TV analyst since he retired after the 2015 season, winning a Super Bowl title with the Denver Broncos in the final game of his 18th NFL season. He has previously said he would consider a job running a team's front office, similar to John Elway in Denver.

      --Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles continued his victory tour Thursday night, appearing on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

      After covering a few typical topics, the conversation turned to the lack of a handshake between Foles and Tom Brady following the Eagles' victory, with Kimmel asking Foles if he had heard from the Patriots star QB.

      "I haven't heard from him yet. I know he's busy, I know he's got a lot going on," Foles said as the crowd laughed. "I will say this. As soon as the game's over, you can't move. You can't even express emotions. There's so many cameras. You have to have a blocker in front of you. I was about to get (Eagles center) Jason Kelce and say 'Hey bro, just come with me for five minutes. ... Just block, block.'"

      --Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who missed all of last season recovering from shoulder surgery, says he is looking forward to the aggressive offensive style of new coach Frank Reich.

      Reich, who served as offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl-winning Eagles, was formally introduced by the Colts on Tuesday and said he wants his offense to be a "multiple, attack, up-tempo offense" that is "aggressive."

      "That sounds great," Luck told Colts.com on Thursday. "I know all the best offenses that I've been a part of in my career, we've not been static and we've attacked. And I'm sure he'll have a great flavor and we'll involve as many people as we can, and attacking defenses is what it's all about."

      --The Carolina Panthers reinstated interim general manager Marty Hurney from paid administrative leave on Friday after the NFL cleared him in an investigation of a harassment complaint made against Hurney by his ex-wife.

      According to the team, the NFL found no evidence of a violation of the personal conduct policy, and the investigation is now closed.

      The Panthers placed Hurney on paid leave Feb. 4, less than a week after he interviewed for the team's full-time GM position. The Panthers have also interviewed Texans assistant GM Jimmy Raye III, Bills assistant director of scouting Lake Dawson and 49ers executive and former Lions GM Martin Mayhew.

      --Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt will receive an honorary doctorate from Baylor for his Hurricane Harvey relief fundraising efforts.

      Watt, who earlier was named Sports Illustrated co-Sportsman of the Year and the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year, will now add a scholarly honor from the Baylor medical school.

      The university announced Thursday it will give Watt a Doctor of Humanities in Medicine degree during Baylor's commencement ceremony on May 29. The Baylor College of Medicine awards the honorary degree to individuals who have provided exceptional support or service directly or indirectly to the school or to academic medicine as a whole and to the community at large.

      --When Shad Khan purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars in January 2012, he took over one of the laughingstocks of the NFL, with a fan base lamenting its stadium and worried he could move the team from North Florida, perhaps to another continent.

      Now, Jacksonville has a Super Bowl contender, an owner revitalizing the downtown area and no fears of the team moving. And that stadium? It's as in-demand as ever.

      Financial-services giant TIAA, which purchased Jacksonville-based EverBank Financial Corp. in 2017, will inherit the naming rights to the stadium. The club announced Friday that it will play at TIAA Bank Field beginning next season, replacing EverBank Field.

      EverBank originally purchased naming rights to the stadium in 2010 and signed a 10-year, $43 million extension with the club in 2014.

      --The Miami Dolphins reportedly will be making minor tweaks to their uniform for the 2018 season.

      An NFL source told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald that the changes will be an "evolution rather than a revolution" and that they will not drastically alter the look that the Dolphins adopted five years ago. The current uniform shows aqua, orange, blue and white as the team's color palette.

      The change is expected to affect the team's jersey, pants and helmet, according to the newspaper. The team's logo itself is not expected to undergo radical change.

      --Field Level Media