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FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has yet to have talks with his agent or the organization about possibly having to take a pay cut to remain with the team in 2018.

When asked on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Friday, Bryant was asked if he would be willing to take a cut in pay to remain with the team.

“That’s a discussion for me, for myself and my agent and Mr. Jones and the Joneses, the Dallas Cowboys,” Bryant said.

Late last season Bryant said he would not take a pay cut. He is set to make $12.5 million in 2018 and counts $16.5 million against the cap. If the Cowboys were to release Bryant, who is the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdown catches, they could save up to $12.5 million against the cap depending on the designation.

If he is designated a post-June 1 cut, then the Cowboys would save $12.5 million against the cap, but he would be on the books in 2019 for $4 million. Without the designation, they would save $8 million and they would be free from a salary-cap perspective in 2019.

Executive vice president Stephen Jones has said the Cowboys will have to look at Bryant’s contract. It is likely they will meet with Bryant’s agent, Kim Miale, next week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

“No one wants to compete and get after it more than Dez,” Jones said at the first Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award dinner. “At the same time, we all know this is a business where everyone has to be accountable. Certainly, everybody knows that. You know, that’s a tough one. Certainly, we’re going to be grinding it out and trying to determine what is in the best interest of our business.”

“Dez understands this is a business. No one thinks more of Dez Bryant than, starting at the top, Jerry [Jones], and certainly me, his teammates, coach [Jason] Garrett, Will McClay,” Jones said. “We all have a tremendous amount of respect for Dez. But that’s one of the things we’re going to have to work through as we move into our future.”

On The Fan, Bryant said he played hurt through part of last season. He said in the final month of the season he dealt with tendinitis that impacted his performance, but he did not miss a game for the first time since 2014. He finished with 69 receptions for 838 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was 28th in the league in yards and tied for 24th in catches.

Since signing a five-year, $70 million contract in 2015, Bryant has not recorded a 1,000-yard season. He battled through foot and knee injuries in 2015 and 2016.

“I don’t even want it to sound like an excuse, but it is the truth,” Bryant said of being compromised by injury. “It’s like one thing that I know — [head athletic trainer Jim Maurer] will tell you — I hate going in that training room. I don’t like going in that training room, especially when I needed to be in that training room.

“But this time around, I want to take care of my body. I want to get it all the way right. I want it to be right. I promise you I ain’t having nobody questioning me again. This is what I love, and I accept everything that’s coming my way right now. That’s OK. That’s fine. I just want to work. That all I want to do. I want to work. I want to stay out of the way. I want to control what I can control and I want my respect. That’s it.”

Bryant said he could not picture himself playing for another team.

“It don’t seem right,” Bryant said on The Fan. “It wouldn’t be right.”

Bryant grew up a Cowboys fan in Lufkin, Texas. The Cowboys selected him with the 24th overall pick in the 2010 draft.

“Man, honestly, it means everything to me,” Bryant said of playing in Dallas. “It means everything. I do want to bring this city a championship. We ain’t had one since the ’90s, and it really is about that time. That’s where my mind is. And we haven’t done it and I want to be a part of that because I do believe that it can happen, and we’ll just have to see.

“Like I said, I’m still working. I’m still grinding. I feel like I’m grinding more than I ever [have] because of me, not because of nobody else. It’s something that I want to do, something I feel like I have to do. I let a lot of things get in the way that shouldn’t have never got in the way. I really didn’t make my mark. I don’t care what nobody is talking about. I could care less. Everybody ain’t with Dez Bryant, they can kiss my ass.”

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Broncos at their best behind a strong running game, but questions linger – Denver Broncos Blog

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When you evaluate where things stand for the Denver Broncos at running back this offseason, it looks more than a little shaky.

  • Leading rusher Melvin Gordon is facing a possible suspension to open the 2021 season and talked openly at season’s end about hoping the Broncos keep him

  • Two-time 1,000-yard rusher Phillip Lindsay just finished the season on injured reserve for the second time in the past three years

  • The Broncos had one touchdown reception from a running back in 2020

Still, there were moments during the Broncos’ 5-11 season when the running game had them looking their best, when the offensive line could show its physical side and the Broncos could use play-action.

“I think they’re just really getting into a rhythm,” Gordon said of the line. “… I’m super excited and stoked to see what we can do as a unit with them boys up front next year.”

The Broncos know the deal. They reside in the AFC West where the Kansas City Chiefs rule the division and have scored at least 30 points in 58% of their regular-season games during Patrick Mahomes‘ three full years as the starting quarterback.

Grind it out isn’t going to get it done. So, the suggestion, or even the feeling inside the Broncos’ Dove Valley complex, isn’t to put a ground-and-pound approach on the front burner. After all, five teams in the NFL threw at least 40 touchdown passes this past season and four of them played in this past weekend’s conference championship games.

But quarterback Drew Lock and the Broncos were better when the running backs had an active piece of the production. The problem is that Gordon, Lindsay and the rest of the running backs are a rather large question mark.

Newly-hired general manager George Paton has said he believes the best way to succeed over the long haul is to draft and develop players. But he is also remaining open-minded: “Now when you go outside, will you be aggressive and dip into free agency or the trade market? Yeah, every now and then, but it takes that right type of player to do that. I think we all believe in drafting and developing and making them into your own. That’s the best way to build a football team.”

Gordon, who led the team in carries (215), rushing yards (986) and rushing touchdowns (nine), also had a DUI arrest in October and could face a three-game suspension from the NFL to begin the 2021 season. A suspension could also enable the Broncos, if they wish, to void the salary guarantees in Gordon’s deal next season. It would also make it easier to release him if they wished.

His next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24 with a potential jury trial April 8 if the case is not resolved before then.

“So, we’ll see, hopefully it works out, and hopefully they like me enough to kind of put all that stuff to the side,” Gordon said of his contract status. “I guess in a couple months or so we’ll see what’s up.”

Lindsay had the Broncos’ longest touchdown run of the season — 55 yards during the comeback win over the Chargers in November — and once again was consistently a spark when in the game. But he had surgery on his right wrist after both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and he finished this year on injured reserve (knee, hip).

Lindsay is a restricted free agent — the Broncos could match any offers he receives from other teams — and after raising the idea of a new deal for Lindsay last offseason, there has been little movement from the Broncos’ decision-makers on that front.

Royce Freeman, also a restricted free agent, had just 35 carries this season, and as a whole the running back group had little impact in the passing game. Gordon led the running backs with 32 of the group’s 52 catches, but he averaged just 4.9 yards per catch, or just three-tenths of a yard more than he averaged per run.

It’s all on the pile now as the Broncos move through the earliest stages of Paton’s tenure during a week that includes Senior Bowl practices and the Chiefs preparing for their second consecutive Super Bowl.

“I just think we have to look from within and just build this thing the best we can,” Paton said. “You start looking outside — obviously we’re aware of how good this division is with Kansas City and some up-and-coming teams with the Raiders and the Chargers, but you need to build within first. We know what’s out there.”

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Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes could join select club of QBs to top Tom Brady in Super Bowl – Kansas City Chiefs Blog

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes was 6 years old when the New England Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI and he has watched Tom Brady play quarterback on football’s biggest stage many times since. So excuse Mahomes if it seems to him like Brady has played in more Super Bowls than have ever been played.

“Being able to go up against one of the greatest if not the greatest quarterback of all time in his 150th Super Bowl, it’s going to be a great experience for me,” Mahomes said after the Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LV against Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS).

“To go out there and get to have a chance to repeat and get to do it against the best, I mean it’s something special and I’m excited for the opportunity.”

In just his third season as a starter, Mahomes already has a Super Bowl victory. The Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV last year.

But he doesn’t have one against Brady. Few quarterbacks do. The list includes just two names: Eli Manning, who beat Brady in a Super Bowl twice with the New York Giants, and Nick Foles, who did it with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The list of quarterbacks who have lost a Super Bowl to Brady is longer. Six have done it: Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams, Jake Delhomme of the Carolina Panthers, Donovan McNabb of the Eagles, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons and Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams.

Mahomes’ name will be on one of these lists and his legacy could eventually depend on which one. Brady with a victory would have a 3-2 record against Mahomes, including wins in an AFC Championship Game and a Super Bowl. He also would have seven Super Bowl victories, making it difficult for Mahomes to ever catch him.

Mahomes with a Chiefs victory would have that rare prize, a Super Bowl win over Brady, and would narrow the gap between them in championships to four.

He also might have some space in Brady’s head, if this tweet Brady sent upon Manning’s retirement last year is any indication.

Manning in a recent interview with Forbes magazine called the formula for beating Brady in a Super Bowl an easy one.

“You just have to have Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul on the defensive line — guys like that — making a bunch of sacks, and it shouldn’t be a problem at all,” Manning said.

The Chiefs won’t have any of those players on defense in this year’s Super Bowl. But Manning’s point is well-taken. The Giants won twice against Brady because they held the Patriots to 14 points one time and 17 points the other.

But holding down the points isn’t a foolproof way to get the job done. Brady and the Patriots scored 13 points against the Rams in Super Bowl LIII but won by 10. The Patriots scored 33 points in Super Bowl LII against Foles and the Eagles, but lost by eight.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid knows about losing to Brady in the Super Bowl. The Patriots beat Reid and the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter but ate up too much of the game clock on a touchdown drive and left themselves little time to finish the comeback.

Reid may be Mahomes’ greatest ally this time around. His offensive playcalling helped the Chiefs hold off Brady and the Bucs in Week 12 this season.

The Chiefs, after leading by 17 points earlier in the fourth quarter, were clinging to a 27-24 lead in the final minutes. Facing a third-and-7 the Chiefs needed to convert in order to keep the ball away from Brady, Reid called for a pass, which Mahomes completed for 8 yards to Tyreek Hill.

With a fresh set of downs the Chiefs ran out the clock. Asked why he risked an incomplete pass or an interception on third down rather than a running play that would have kept the clock moving, Reid said, “I learned a long time ago you don’t give the ball back to Tom Brady.”

Mahomes has played well in his four career matchups against Brady. He has 1,392 yards, or almost 350 yards per game, with 12 touchdown passes and three interceptions while completing more than 65% of his throws. His passer rating is 111.

Brady against Mahomes has 1,202 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 63% of his passes. His passer rating is 82.

The series between the two is 2-2.

Reid will be worrying about bigger things once the game starts, but for now he’s savoring the matchup.

“We look forward to the opportunity to play them and I know Pat does with Tom and I’m sure likewise Tom does with Pat,” Reid said. “So it should be a heck of a football game.”



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Ex-Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt to be defensive assistant with New York Giants

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Former Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt is headed to the NFL as a defensive assistant with the New York Giants, sources told ESPN.

In addition, two of Pruitt’s former assistants at Tennessee are also on the move. Defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley has taken the defensive backs job with the Los Angeles Chargers and running backs coach Jay Graham is headed to Alabama as the Crimson Tide’s special-teams coordinator and tight ends coach.

Pruitt, who spent three seasons as the Vols’ coach, was fired for cause on Jan. 18 following an investigation that uncovered what university chancellor Donde Plowman called “serious violations of NCAA rules.”

Pruitt has retained Michael Lyons and the Dallas-based trial firm Lyons & Simmons to represent him and plans to fight the university’s decision to fire him for cause. Lyons accused the university of trying to disparage and destroy Pruitt’s character in an effort to keep from paying Pruitt what the university owes him.

Pruitt was 16-19 overall at Tennessee and 10-16 against SEC opponents. He previously was the defensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban and a part of the Crimson Tide’s 2017 national championship staff. Pruitt, 46, also was the defensive coordinator at Florida State in 2013 when the Seminoles won the national championship.

Giants coach Joe Judge and Pruitt worked together under Saban on the Alabama staff from 2009 to ’11.

Tennessee announced Josh Heupel as its new head coach on Wednesday. Heupel was previously at UCF.

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