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Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy says there’s been progress toward new contract for Aaron Rodgers



INDIANAPOLIS — It shouldn’t be too long before Aaron Rodgers is back atop the NFL quarterback pay scale.

Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy told ESPN on Tuesday there has already been progress made toward a new contract for the two-time NFL MVP even though he’s signed through the 2019 season.

Murphy said new general manager Brian Gutekunst and executive vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball both have been involved in the process.

“We’ve had discussions with his representative,” Murphy said at the NFL scouting combine. “I have a lot of confidence in Brian and Russ and Aaron as well. We want to create a win-win.”

Rodgers still has two seasons left on the five-year, $110 million extension he signed in 2013, but that deal has become outdated. At the time, he was the NFL’s highest-paid player based on the $20 million average per year. He has slipped to No. 6 on the pay scale after the latest quarterback deal — the five-year, $137.5 million contract Jimmy Garoppolo signed with the 49ers.

Rodgers’ undervalued contract has been an issue for at least a year. Last summer, he said: “I know my value in this league, and I know the team appreciates me. I’m going to continue to make myself an indispensable part of this roster. When you do that, when your time comes up to get a contract, you usually get a contract extension.”

Rodgers, 34, has said he would like to play until he’s at least 40. He was off to one of his best starts last season with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions, and the Packers were off to a 4-1 start when Rodgers broke his collarbone. The Packers finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Earlier this offseason, Rodgers expressed frustration over losing quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, whose contract was not renewed. On ESPN Radio, he said the move was made “without consulting me.”

Rodgers is scheduled to make $20.9 million this season and $21.1 million in 2019. His salary-cap figures are similar. The Packers are expected to have at least $16 million in salary cap space when free agency opens next month.

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What’s next for Dez? FAQ on NFL’s most popular practice squad player – Baltimore Ravens Blog



OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens signed three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant to the practice squad on Tuesday.

Bryant gets a chance to come to a Super Bowl contender in Baltimore (5-1) and show the football world that he has something left at the age of 31. The Ravens get a much-needed physical and emotional presence in a lagging passing game while taking no risk (or financial commitment) at all.

Here are the biggest questions surrounding Bryant’s comeback.

Why now?

The Ravens are coming off their bye with the 31st-ranked passing attack and the least productive wide receivers in the league. Lamar Jackson has thrown two touchdown passes and two interceptions when targeting wide receivers this season, which is a significant dropoff to his numbers when throwing to tight ends and running backs (eight touchdowns and no interceptions). The hope was for Miles Boykin, a third-round pick from a year ago, would take a significant step forward in his second season and become a solid complement to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. But Boykin has failed to gain any chemistry with Jackson, and their recent miscommunications have become a topic of discussion during the bye. If nothing else, Bryant’s arrival could motivate the likes of Boykin and Willie Snead.

When will Bryant play?

It really depends on how quickly Bryant can get into football shape. The last time Bryant played in an NFL game, Jackson was throwing touchdown passes at Louisville. It seems highly unlikely Bryant would get elevated to the active roster for Sunday’s showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Nov. 8 game at Indianapolis is a more realistic target, but there are no guarantees. That’s why Bryant was signed to practice squad and not 53-man roster. It’s the ultimate prove-it situation.

What’s the best-case scenario?

Bryant becomes Jackson’s No. 3 option, behind Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. He provides what Baltimore’s passing game is lacking: a physical target on the outside who fights to win those contested catches. This season, the Ravens have made 10 catches on 26 tight-window targets (when the distance between the receiver and nearest defender is less than one yard at the arrival of the pass). Boykin has not made a catch on five such throws this year. Bryant, who is 6-2, also brings size, experience and a fiery edge. Of the six receivers on Baltimore’s 53-man roster, only one is taller than 6-1 and no one is older than 27.

What’s the worst-case scenario?

Bryant gets cut after struggling to get separation or gets hurt before he can throw up his first X in Baltimore. No one in the Ravens organization believes they’re getting the same Dez Bryant who was one of the most dynamic offensive players in Cowboys history. The Ravens are in a situation where they have a need at wide receiver and they don’t have much salary cap room to really address it. Why wouldn’t Baltimore take a flier on a highly motivated and strong-willed personality like Bryant?

How will this realistically end?

The Ravens have a really good track record with 30-something wide receivers: Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith Sr. But this is really uncharted waters with Bryant as far as comebacks. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s attempting to become the second Pro Bowl wide receiver to miss two full seasons and then return to the NFL since the 1970 merger. Josh Gordon was the first and he was five years younger than Bryant when he did so. The truth is no one really knows how productive Bryant will be. No one should be rushing to add Bryant to their fantasy teams. But no one should be writing him off just yet, either.

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Free-agent Eric Reid — Declined Washington practice squad offer



Free-agent safety Eric Reid told The Associated Press he declined an offer to join Washington’s practice squad.

Washington (2-5) lost safety Landon Collins to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury in a win over Dallas on Sunday. Rookie Kamren Curl, a seventh-round pick, will replace him for now.

“I just don’t think playing on the practice squad is reflective or indicative of my career,” Reid said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old Reid played two seasons for Washington coach Ron Rivera in Carolina and set two defensive franchise records for the Panthers last season.

Last month, Rivera praised Reid, saying: “He’s a heck of a teammate. He’s a heck of a young man.”

Rivera also added: “If we didn’t (have Collins), believe me, I’d call him. I think he’s a guy that has the ability to play in this league and hopefully, if somebody needs a strong safety, he’s a guy they would call.”

Washington had a need and made the call but only for a practice squad spot.

Reid has been working out and waiting for an opportunity to join a team’s active roster. He said he was told Washington wants to give Curl a shot at starting.

“I’m just not in a place to play on the practice squad right now,” Reid said, adding that he texted Rivera to let him know his decision. “If they go a different direction, I’ll be ready.”

Reid has started 98 games in seven seasons with San Francisco and Carolina. He has 519 career tackles, 11 interceptions, 45 passes defensed, six sacks, five fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. Reid also has 17 quarterback hits and 14 tackles for a loss.

Reid had 130 tackles, four sacks, six passes defended, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in 2019. The tackles and sacks are the most by a Panthers safety in one season.

A first-round pick by San Francisco in 2013, Reid went to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. He joined Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when the former star quarterback took a knee during the national anthem to protest police violence, racism and social injustice.

Kaepernick hasn’t played in the league since that season and Reid sat out the first three weeks of the 2018 season before Carolina signed him. Both players filed collusion grievances against the NFL and settled their cases in February 2019.

Despite a losing record, Washington is a contender in the NFC East. The first-place Eagles are 2-4-1 and lost at Washington in Week 1.

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Denver Broncos’ Noah Fant — Offense needs to ‘put up or shut up’



ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the wake of Sunday’s 27-point loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that dropped the Denver Broncos offense to 28th in the league and the team to 2-4, Broncos tight end Noah Fant said it’s time for the offense to “put up or shut up” about its potential.

“I don’t have bad attitude about it right? But I’m definitely not happy with the results that we have right now, right? It’s unacceptable,” Fant said Tuesday. “We want to be better than what we’re doing … you look at the numbers and we’re not living up to our potential and we have so much ability, so much talent on the offensive side of the ball, and we have to figure out how to make these things work.

“I’m still positive about it, but at some point it’s like, put up or shut up, and buckle down and get these things going.”

The Broncos have a first-year starter at quarterback in Drew Lock; wide receiver Courtland Sutton (knee) is on injured reserve; and running back Phillip Lindsay has missed three games as well as the second half in two others with injuries. But Sunday’s loss made it clear the growing pains on offense are a big part of the team’s stumble out of the gate.

The Broncos held the Chiefs to 286 total yards, 0-for-7 on third down, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes had just 15 completions, only one longer than 22 yards. But Lock threw a pick-six, Melvin Gordon fumbled twice and the Broncos surrendered a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

With Lock having missed two games and most of a third with a shoulder injury, the Broncos have started three different quarterbacks and have finished with 254 or fewer passing yards in four games, have thrown nine interceptions in the past four games combined and have just six touchdown passes all season.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Monday that the struggles were “an 11-man operation.”

“As far as the passing game goes … hopefully everybody is able to get involved,” Fant said. “Like Coach said, I think it’s a little bit of everybody, right? We all have to take responsibility, we all have to figure out exactly what’s going on and come up with a solution.”

Defensive players such as defensive end Shelby Harris and linebacker Bradley Chubb showed plenty of frustration on the bench and after the game.

“There was definitely words said in the locker room after the game,” Fant said. “I’m not going to go into detail, that stays in the locker room, but they have every right to be frustrated and upset. … I put a lot of the load on us; Kansas City had one of the most powerful offenses, one of the most high-octane offenses in the league, right? And they were holding them to field goals, getting three-and-outs on them, all these things, and we’re not really living up to our ability on offense. If I was in a defensive player’s position, I would feel the exact same way. Those guys have every right to be heated and upset.”

Lock echoed those thoughts Sunday night.

“They have the credibility and the right to do it in this locker room,” Lock said. “They have a right to express their feelings without a doubt; they have the right to tell someone straight to their face, You need to pick your s— up. And if they were to come up and tell me that, I wouldn’t mind.”

Chubb, who said he was expressing much of his frustration after Mahomes threw his only touchdown pass of the game to Tyreek Hill in the fourth quarter, said he sees a young team trying to find its way.

“I’m trying to be one of those guys changing this losing we’ve had the last couple years,” Chubb said. “I have to be one of those who steps up and gets animated and shows people how much this really means to me, how much I care.

“Drew Lock, man, he’s one of the greatest kids you’ll ever meet, he goes out there with passion. … I know he’s going to change it around, I know the offensive linemen are going to continue to block their asses off, I know the receivers are going to catch those 50-50 balls — I know it, I believe it.”

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