Joe Flacco signs with New York Jets as Sam Darnold’s backup at QB

Joe Flacco is getting another shot in the NFL.

The former Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos quarterback and Super Bowl XLVII MVP signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets on Friday, his representation announced. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the contract is worth $1.5 million but could reach $4.5 million with incentives.

Flacco, 35, was released by the Broncos in March with a failed physical designation. He played in just eight games before he landed on injured reserve with a herniated disc. Denver opted to move on from Flacco and head into 2020 with Drew Lock, who went 4-1 in the final five games, as the team's starter.

Flacco underwent neck surgery last month but could be cleared before the start of the regular season in September, according to multiple reports. The 12-year veteran has not played in more than nine games since 2017.

In New York, Flacco will be reunited with general manager Joe Douglas, who was a scout for the Ravens in 2008, when the team drafted the quarterback out of Delaware in the first round.

The Jets now will have a veteran with extensive starting experience to serve behind starter Sam Darnold. New York drafted quarterback James Morgan in the fourth round of April's NFL draft and also re-signed David Fales.

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf expresses ‘general concern’ after Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s video at barbershop

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger showed himself getting a beard trim at a barbershop, and the state's governor didn't think that was a good move in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf didn't address Roethlisberger's case specifically but expressed a "general concern."

"Anybody who puts himself or herself into harm’s way is something that I think we ought to try to avoid," Wolf said at his coronavirus briefing Tuesday. "And when you go to something like a barbershop and you’re not protected, I don’t care who you are, the chances of that virus actually wreaking havoc on your life increases."

Roethlisberger, who had elbow surgery in September, had vowed not to shave until he was able to throw a pass to a teammate. Monday's video was designed to show where he stood in his recovery. It included a scene in a barbershop.

Feels good to be back out there with my guys! @[email protected][email protected]/hAlOwr7Ias

Barbershops and salons are among businesses that have been shut down nationwide in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"I don’t personally think that any Pennsylvanian ought to take that chance," Wolf said. "I certainly don’t want to take that chance myself.”

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Pro Football Hall of Fame grandfather helped shape Ohio State standout Wyatt Davis

As Wyatt Davis emerged as an All-America right guard last year in his first full season as an Ohio State starter, his grandfather was too ill to travel to see him play.

But Davis knew that his grandfather, Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Davis, watched his games.

“His wife, Carol, would always send me a video of him after the game saying congratulations for some of our wins this year, and even at the end of the season of him saying how proud he was of me,” Davis said from his home in California during a conference call with reporters last week. “It was awesome. It almost made me tear up hearing that because he’s my idol.”

Willie Davis died April 15 at age 85.

“It was honestly very tough when he passed, but unfortunately my granddad was kind of struggling with health for the past couple of years,” Wyatt Davis said.

Willie Davis was born in Lisbon, Alabama, and played for the legendary Eddie Robinson at Grambling. The Cleveland Browns drafted him in the 15th round in 1956 and then unwisely traded him to Green Bay after two seasons.

Davis didn’t miss a game in 10 years with the Packers as a five-time Pro Bowl defensive end when Green Bay was a dynasty under Vince Lombardi. Davis later became a member of the Packers’ board of directors and was a finalist for the NFL commissioner job in 1989.

“A lot of people don’t know my granddad was more successful and made more earnings outside of football than he did when he was playing, and just that type of work ethic is inspiring,” Davis said. “He didn’t let people put him in a box of just being an athlete. He broke outside of that box and was extremely successful. Growing up, he was always around, especially with me and my brother, he treated us so good. That’s why it was so hard when he passed.”

Davis said he has seen film of his grandfather as a player.

“All I’ve got to say is thank God I didn’t have to play against somebody like that to this point yet,” he said.

Davis was a five-star recruit entering Ohio State, so his grandfather’s genetics carried down. He said his grandfather and father also instilled in him a burning competitiveness with an emphasis on battling complacency and playing with toughness.

He remembers hearing “war stories” of how the elder Davis lost all his front teeth while sacking a quarterback because he wasn’t wearing a mouthpiece and yet kept playing.

“That’s what you have to have playing football,” Davis said. “You’ve got to be tough, you’ve got to be physical and you’ve got to be nasty. That’s what my granddad has told me playing the game.”

Despite his pedigree and blue-chip status, Wyatt Davis struggled early in his career at Ohio State. It wasn’t until he was thrust into a starting spot for the 2018 postseason when Demitrius Knox was injured that he fulfilled his promise.

Davis would likely have gone early in the NFL draft this year if he’d chosen to leave Ohio State. But he believes he has unfinished business. Last year’s heartbreaking College Football Playoff semifinal loss to Clemson remains an open wound, and Davis relishes the chance to be more of a leader.

Ohio State head strength coach Mickey Marotti recently described a speech Davis gave his teammates as the most inspiring he’d ever heard during a winter conditioning period.

“I mean, I had tears,” Marotti said. “I know a lot of other guys were teared up, and it meant so much.”

Marotti said that Davis spoke of replacing Knox in 2018 with the mindset not that it was his opportunity to shine personally but as a solemn responsibility not to let down his teammates. Now as a fourth-year junior, Davis is eager to impart what he has learned.

Davis said he wanted to “open his heart” and implore his teammates to do everything in their power so they didn’t feel the way they did after the Clemson loss.

“I was saying that the look in the seniors’ eyes, and they were crying, was something that I will never forget the rest of my life,” Davis said. “For some of those guys, it was their last time even playing a football game. That’s how we went out.

“So I was just telling them right now, where we’re at, this is the critical part of our season.”

That sense of responsibility is even more important now that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the Buckeyes to return home to continue their offseason preparation.

“We’re in a place where you’re on your own,” Davis said. “You have no one holding your hand. The coaches are still texting you, but no one’s really going to know what you’re doing beside you. So hopefully what I have said still resonates and people are using that as a reason to be accountable.

“I truly believe that we have a lot of guys on our team that have been accountable and have been going above and beyond working out right now.”

It’s a message that Davis got from his grandfather.

“I’m very appreciative, just like the rest of my family, of each second I was able to spend with him because, man, he was amazing,” he said.

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Nine NFL teams throughout history that deserve ‘The Last Dance’ treatment

"The Last Dance" – the 10-part documentary detailing the trials, tribulations and glory of Michael Jordan's dynastic Chicago Bulls – concluded its ratings bonanza run for ESPN on Sunday night.

Part of the series' popularity was surely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left sports fans ravenous for fresh content. However "The Last Dance" surely would have been a smash under normal circumstances given its rare access to Jordan while peeling back the layers of Bulls teams that retain a prominent position in popular culture and continue to be a measuring stick for NBA greatness, including the Golden State Warriors' recent powerhouses.

Such a docuseries format would, of course, be easily applicable to compelling teams in any other sport … which naturally got me thinking about NFL versions. Here are nine clubs – they all won to varying extents and, probably more importantly, each featured captivating "characters" – I'd love for NFL Films or ESPN's "30 for 30" franchise to do a deep dive on:

TAKEAWAYS: What we learned about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls from 'The Last Dance'

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(Note: "The '85 Bears" has already been done by "30 for 30," hence that team's notable exclusion from this list.)

9. 1978 Oakland Raiders: This was the final season of coach John Madden's 10-year run with the Silver and Black, when they basically won 75% of their games and Super Bowl XI at a time when they were competing against Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain dynasty and Don Shula's Dolphins, among others. The book "Badasses" provides great insight into these renegade Raiders, but it would be even better to hear tales from those players, whose ranks have been sadly thinned by the losses of such colorful personalities as QB Ken "Snake" Stabler, CB Willie Brown, DE John Matuszak and LG Gene Upshaw.

8. 2011 Denver Broncos: Admittedly, these one-year wonders would likely require two episodes … max. But how delicious would it be to get the inside scoop on QB Tim Tebow's magic carpet ride, one that consistently left GM John Elway appearing like he was dealing with agita as the unorthodox southpaw led the .500 Broncos to the unlikeliest of AFC West crowns. Definitely going to need a few segments to break down the wild-card stunner of the defending AFC champion Steelers and their top-ranked defense … before Tebowmania was snuffed out 45-10 by the Patriots.

7. 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers: For half a decade, they sported one of the greatest sets of triplets in league history. QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown will likely wind up in the Hall of Fame, and RB Le'Veon Bell has time to polish his own Canton résumé.  But these "Killer B's" never reached a Super Bowl together, and the flameout in 2018 was spectacular. Unhappy with his franchise tag, Bell skipped the season. Big Ben led the league in passing yards (career-high 5,129) but was at loggerheads with Brown, who was benched for the regular-season finale even though the collapsing Steelers were still vying for a playoff spot. The "he said, he said" recollections could be … delightful.

6. 1990 New York Giants: Bill Parcells' initial retirement from coaching coincided with his team's narrow escape from the Buffalo Bills to win Super Bowl XXV. It was a masterful job by Parcells, who led this team to glory – Big Blue's path included a derailment of the San Francisco 49ers' three-peat bid – even after losing starting QB Phil Simms to a broken foot in Week 15. And with storytellers such as Parcells, Simms and Lawrence Taylor delving into this past, who wouldn't want to relive it?

5. 1999 Dallas Cowboys: It was the last time "America's Team" was underpinned by "The Triplets." And even though an 8-8 record was good enough for a wild-card spot, Dallas was waxed by the Minnesota Vikings in the playoff opener. A Week 5 spinal injury prematurely ended WR Michael Irvin's career. CB Deion Sanders bolted after the season, and concussions would force QB Troy Aikman to walk away following the 2000 campaign. Still, so much to explore with the NFL's dynasty of the 1990s, which was well chronicled in Jeff Pearlman's "Boys Will Be Boys."

4. 2007 Green Bay Packers: Brett Favre's sterling final season with the Pack was plenty memorable, a surprise run to the NFC title game summarily extinguished by one of his ill-advised interceptions in overtime as the Giants prevailed at Lambeau Field. But the real fireworks occurred in the subsequent months – when Favre retired, the franchise anointed Aaron Rodgers as his successor, Favre unretired and was controversially offloaded to the New York Jets. Plenty to "unpack" here, including the genesis of a cold war between Favre and Rodgers which took years to thaw.

3. 2017 Seattle Seahawks: The final time CB Richard Sherman, S Kam Chancellor and DL Michael Bennett would play for Seattle, it was effectively the "Legion of Boom's" swan song. And there are stories to be told, from the transition of a team that had been reliant on its defense to one that depended on QB Russell Wilson … not to mention latent feelings from the Seahawks' infamous Super Bowl XLIX loss to New England, one that aborted any dynastic aspirations in the Pacific Northwest. Sherman always teems with unvarnished honesty, but this truly becomes must-see TV if RB Marshawn Lynch opts to opine in any meaningful manner.

2. 2010 Indianapolis Colts: Whenever there might be an opportunity to tap into Peyton Manning's memory bank, you take it, right? This, of course, represents Peyton's final on-field ride in Indy, one that occurred after an unprecedented decade of success but ended ignominiously with a wild-card defeat at the hands of Mark Sanchez's Jets. It'd definitely be riveting to hear Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Pat McAfee – you'd hope Tony Dungy, Edgerrin James and others who were instrumental to building this powerhouse would also participate – regale us with stories about how Manning maniacally drove the Colts while simultaneously trying to keep things light in the locker room. Yet the Favre-esque aftermath in 2011, when Manning was still listed on the roster but unable to play while trying to cure his injured neck, would be just as engrossing – especially as the team cratered, laying the groundwork for Manning's inevitable departure and Andrew Luck's arrival. Definitely potential for docu-gold here.

1. 2019 New England Patriots: We're already wondering, right? The friction between coach Bill Belichick, QB Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft near the end of their epic 20-year run together had long been rumored. TB12 finally bolted to freedom (aka Tampa) after engineering a contractual escape hatch following this season and seems rejuvenated by his new challenge (and assortment of weapons, including old buddy Rob Gronkowski). Like Jordan's Bulls, might be a minute before Brady, Gronk, Belichick (would he?) et al. are truly willing to take viewers into this inner sanctum. But it'd certainly be worth any requisite wait.

***

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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10 most intriguing games of 2020 NFL regular-season: Top QBs, powerhouse teams to square off

Pressing forward with its plans for an on-time start to the 2020 season, the NFL on Thursday released its full slate of games.

There will be no international games this season, and we don’t know exactly what kind of crowd control methods the league will implement amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. But if the games do begin on time, the coming season will feature no shortage of action and compelling story lines.

Here’s a look at 10 of the most intriguing matchups on tap in the 2020 regular season.

Chiefs at Ravens (Sept. 28 – Week 3)

Led by two of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the league (and the winners of the last two MVP awards), the Chiefs and Ravens square off once again. Patrick Mahomes holds bragging rights for now after narrowly beating Jackson and the Ravens 27-24 in their first meeting (2018) and then throwing for 374 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-28 triumph last season. But a year after following in Mahomes’ footsteps and taking home the NFL's top individual honor, Jackson will try to avenge those losses and match Mahomes’ Year 3 Super Bowl-winning quest. 

This game should feature all kinds of fireworks as each unit spent the offseason further bolstering their speed on offense while also upgrading their defenses. It also could represent a preview of the AFC championship game.

Buccaneers vs. Saints (Sept. 13 – Week 1, Nov. 8 – Week 9)

It’s still hard to believe that future Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Drew Brees are now divisional foes. But sure enough, if each 40-plus-year-old quarterback can remain healthy, we should be treated to two regular-season shootouts between these icons. 

Brees and the Saints will try to rebound from yet another heartbreaking season-ending defeat and give chase to the Lombardi Trophy, perhaps for one last time for the signal-caller. Meanwhile, Brady hopes to bring his winning ways to a Tampa Bay squad that’s loaded with young talent. 

Cardinals vs. 49ers (Sept. 13 – Week 1, Dec. 26 or 27 – Week 16)

The rebuilding Cardinals made the eventual NFC champion 49ers sweat in each of their meetings last season. With a year of experience under Kyler Murray's belt, and after an aggressive offseason, Arizona should be even more thoroughly equipped to challenge NFC West rival San Francisco.

Patriots at Chiefs (Oct. 4 – Week 4)

Two great franchises seemingly headed in the opposite directions, yes — but intriguing nonetheless. Kansas City boasts the potential to take over as the AFC’s next great dynasty while New England has begun to rebuild after losing Brady and a number of defensive standouts to free agency. However, this is a showdown of two great coaches in Andy Reid and Bill Belichick. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of a defensive game plan Belichick can cook up to challenge the defending Super Bowl champs.

Titans at Ravens (Nov. 22 – Week 11)

In a rematch of one of last season’s great postseason upsets, Mike Vrabel and his Titans return to Baltimore. A punishing ground game and physical defensive game plan rendered the top-seeded Ravens ineffective. That divisional-round loss exposed Baltimore’s need for a fortified defensive front and more weapons to help lighten Jackson’s load. After a draft and free agency devoted to both missions, the Ravens will be under pressure to improve.

Patriots at Rams (Dec. 10 – Week 14)

A lot has changed since Super Bowl LIII. Gone from their previous squads are Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks, among others. Now, both New England and Los Angeles are working to retool their rosters while simultaneously giving themselves the best chance to remain competitive. Belichick is out to show he can continue to work his magic without Brady, and Sean McVay is trying to show that success in Years 1 and 2 was not a fluke.

49ers at Cowboys (Dec. 20 – Week 15)

This should be a good measuring stick for the Cowboys and new head coach Mike McCarthy. Dallas had Super Bowl aspirations last season and fell far short, going 8-8 and missing the postseason. Now the Cowboys host the defending NFC champion 49ers, who should provide a significant test on both sides of the ball. 

Steelers vs. Browns (Oct. 18 – Week 6, Jan. 3 – Week 17)

As divisional opponents, these teams already didn’t like each other. But last year’s melee, in which Myles Garrett clocked Mason Rudolph with the quarterback’s own helmet, further stoked the animosity between the franchises. The Steelers hope to have Ben Roethlisberger back on the field after an elbow injury forced him to miss 14 games last year. And the Browns are once again hitting the reset button after firing both head coach Freddie Kitchens (replaced by Kevin Stefanski) and GM John Dorsey (replaced by Andrew Berry).

Packers vs. 49ers (Nov. 5 – Week 9)

The rematch of the NFC championship game should be quite interesting. We'll see if Aaron Rodgers and Co. can fare any better in this meeting than they did in January, when they fell 37-20 to San Francisco, and November, when the Niners trounced them 37-8. Both defeats exposed the Packers' need for more weapons on offense. This meeting should also be a good test for second-year Packers’ coach Matt LaFleur, who struggled against former mentor Kyle Shanahan last year. 

Dolphins vs. Patriots (Sept. 13 – Week 1, Dec. 20 – Week 15)

Viewed as candidates to go 0-16 after an awful start to the season, including a 43-0 drubbing by the Patriots, Miami pulled off quite a turnaround, winning five of its last nine games. No win was bigger than their Week 17 upset of New England. That 27-24 victory gave Brian Flores his first victory over mentor Bill Belichick, and it knocked the Patriots down to the No. 3 seed  cost them an opening-round bye. Now, as the Patriots’ new era kicks off, their divisional foes all will be licking their chops. But the Dolphins are the only AFC East squad to beat New England last year. 

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones and listen to the Football Jones podcast on iTunes.

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NFL provides ticket-refund assurances amid coronavirus concerns, but teams vary on flexibility for season packages

In case you’ve paid for tickets and are wondering: Of course you’ll get a full refund for a 2020 NFL game that is canceled or prohibits fan attendance.

It’s pretty much a no-brainer of a policy when it comes to customer relations. Yet with the NFL set to release its regular-season schedule on Thursday night despite layers of uncertainty tied to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Commissioner Roger Goodell has confirmed that all 32 teams will follow a uniform approach on refunds for patrons who purchase tickets directly from the clubs.

Also, the NFL has pledges from licensed ticketing partners Ticketmaster and SeatGeek  to comply similarly within 30 days of the affected event. StubHub will only do so in instances required by state law.

"They’re giving fans some confidence that if things don’t go as planned, they’re protected," Andrew Brandt, executive director of the Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at Villanova University and a former Green Bay Packers executive, told USA TODAY Sports. "They’re not going to be left high and dry."

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Sports consultant Marc Ganis said the league’s teams have, for years, had "a de facto policy" stating as much, but it was wise to reiterate the consistent approach given the current conditions.

The refund policy, though, is merely one reflection of the efforts by NFL teams in recent weeks to connect with paying customers.

A USA TODAY Sports survey of all 32 teams found that nearly 60% of the franchises (19) have deferred payments for season-ticket packages, with several teams instituting or considering multiple deferrals.

"Everybody understands that this year is an aberration," said Ganis, president of Sportscorp, Ltd.

It is unclear whether the pandemic will result in a widespread reduction of NFL season-ticket sales. Some indicators, such as a recent Seton Hall poll that found 72% of respondents declared they would not attend sporting events until a COVID-19 vaccine is available, suggest waning interest. Yet several NFL teams are poised to match or exceed previous demand.

While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would not reveal season-ticket sales, the demand appeared to spike in March immediately after Tom Brady signed as a free agent.

The New York Jets have deferred payments for a third time — first in April, then in May, and now the June payment won’t be due until further notice. The team also announced that given the uncertainty in this climate, it won’t sell single-game tickets — as teams typically begin to do after the schedule is released. The Jets are the only team known to have halted single-game sales.

The Denver Broncos, meanwhile, had a season-ticket renewal rate of about 95%, which will ensure that the franchise will extend its record streak to 51 years for selling out each home game — so long as fans are able to attend games. And the Broncos still have a waiting list of 80,000 for season tickets.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, who this week announced a creative season-ticket option that allows buyers of a two-year package to defer 40% of the cost for this year’s tickets to next year, have had the best two-week boost of sales since the draft. The Jaguars also have picked up two additional games in Jacksonville, with their "home games" pegged for London moved.

Chad Johnson, the Jaguars’ senior vice president of sales and service, told USA TODAY Sports that the club was driven to expand options after eliciting feedback from fans. His 50-person sales staff talked to roughly half of the 13,000 season ticket account holders over a seven-week period, with the polling revealing some concerns related to economics.

"We got a lot of feedback," Johnson said. "We found that there is cautious optimism among the fans, but still uncertainty. There was also the sentiment, 'I know I'm going to bounce back, but it might take time.' This plan was based on that feedback."

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USA TODAY

Every NFL team, even those that didn’t adjust payment dates, indicated that it is willing to work with individual season-ticket holders on a case-by-case basis if a hardship is expressed. The Chicago Bears, for example, held onto a payment deadline date of March 20.

"But in 100% of cases where a customer asked for an extension we granted it and tailored it to their individual needs," spokesman Adam Widman said in a statement. "We understand and are sensitive to everyone’s individual situation and how fluid this is for us all."

Yet even in deferring payments and with dire projections of how overall revenues could be affected, the NFL has been afforded more time than other leagues to formulate plans, with the pandemic emerging during the league’s offseason. Several teams had season-ticket renewals — and payments received — in February, before the outbreak resulted in stay-at-home measures. At least four teams (Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Miami and Detroit) have year-round payment plans and didn’t automatically defer any payments.

As Ganis pointed out, in a normal year, the liquid revenues from season-ticket sales is important from an operational standpoint, as payments from the massive national TV contracts don’t begin until August.

Of course, this is no normal year, with the NFL, which generates at least $15 billion in annual revenues, bracing for the potential need to adjust whatever schedule it releases on Thursday night.

"But you still have to have the cash," said Ganis, who has consulted with three leagues and at least a half-dozen teams on matters involving re-opening the sports landscape. "That’s where the liquidity comes in. The league is so strong financially that they can find ways to help teams that may need some help in the short term. There aren’t many of them, but there may be a few."

Especially if season-ticket sales are down … and if refunds are up.

Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.

NFL teams' season-ticket policies

Arizona Cardinals: Deposit deadline (one-third of total) deferred from April 1 to May 1

Atlanta Falcons: Option to defer April 1 and May 1 payments to tack on to end of payment plan

Baltimore Ravens: Skipped April payments, final payment due June 15

Buffalo Bills: No deadline

Carolina Panthers: Extended deadline for final payment from Aug. 1 to Sept. 1

Chicago Bears: March 20 deadline not moved

Cincinnati Bengals: Deferred final payment from April 15 to May 15

Cleveland Browns: Five-month payment plan began April 1

Dallas Cowboys: No change, with first invoice on May 1

Denver Broncos: No changes to deadlines in February and June

Detroit Lions: Feb. 28 was deadline for “Lionsurance” payment plan, with a year-round plan offered

Green Bay Packers: Payment deadline moved from March 31 to June 1

Houston Texans: April 20 payment deadline moved to June 20

Indianapolis Colts: For March 15-May 15 payment plan, initial payment deferred to June 15

Jacksonville Jaguars: Deadline to renew pushed to June 5, no payments required until June 20, and new two-year plan allows deferment of 40% of Year 1 cost to roll to Year 2

Kansas City Chiefs: No changes to Feb. 17 deadline, five-month payment plan

Las Vegas Raiders: Final two payments (previously extended until April 15 and May 15) both deferred to July 3

Los Angeles Chargers: Deadline for payments pushed to May 15, considering another pushback

Los Angeles Rams: Option to skip May 1 payment, with balance paid from June 1 to Oct. 1

Miami Dolphins: Year-round payments

Minnesota Vikings: Final deadline moved from April 16 to June 1

New England Patriots: Deadline for final payment pushed to June 30

New Orleans Saints: No change; 50% was due in mid-March with final payment by June 1

New York Jets: April, May and June deadlines for payments all were deferred

New York Giants: Final payment deferred to July 1

Philadelphia Eagles: TBD

Pittsburgh Steelers: Final payment deferred from May 1 to June 1

San Francisco 49ers: No change, year-round payment plan

Seattle Seahawks: No change to June 15 deadline for final payment

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: No change to 12-month payment plan, in place since at least 2013

Tennessee Titans: Deadline pushed from March 16 to May 4

Washington Redskins: First payment deferred from April 1 to May 1

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NFL sets plan to have teams ready to open facilities by May 15

The NFL has laid out a plan for all 32 teams to have their facilities prepared to be reopened by Friday, May 15.

Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all teams Wednesday informing them of the protocols put in place to have their complexes ready to open. He said he will then advise them as to when they can formally allow personnel to enter.

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“The protocols are intended to allow for a safe and phased reopening,” Goodell said in the memo.

The first phase allows 50 percent of non-player personnel to be permitted into the facility, as well as players who are continuing rehab and therapy that they began before facilities were ordered closed in late March.

”While these protocols have been carefully developed and reflect best practices,” Goodell wrote, ”they can also be adapted and supplemented to ensure compliance with any state and local public health requirements.”

The second phase, which Goodell wrote is actively being worked on, involves increasing the number of staff members and players. He said he expects to have those procedures in place soon.

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Eli Manning didn’t expect Tom Brady to leave Patriots

Eli Manning was surprised to see his former Super Bowl rival Tom Brady join the Buccaneers. Manning also feels his fellow quarterback will have a tough task adapting during an unusual offseason.

Manning has had an opportunity to observe a dramatic free agency period at his position since retiring from the Giants at the end of last season. Brady, the man he beat in two Super Bowls, opted to leave the Patriots after 20 years, nine AFC championships and six Vince Lombardi trophies.

It was shock to Manning that Brady would part with New England coach Bill Belichick.

“I was just surprised,” Manning said of Brady’s move to SiriusXM NFL Radio. “So much success and still having success and playing at a high level and making playoffs and everything he has done there in New England, [I’m surprised] that there would be a departure.”

Brady adapting to life with the Bucs has been made more difficult by the coronavirus impacting offseason activities, Manning noted. 

“I think it’s going to be tough for him, just the fact he can’t be doing everything he wants to be doing with the team and getting ready,” Manning said. “It will be interesting how it all plays out — how quickly he can just adjust to a new organization, new players and a new offense, all those new things, especially with the limited timing he’s going to have being with them.”

He’s hopeful the quality of the Bucs’ receivers can go at least some way towards easing the 42-year-old’s transition.

“When you have got talented receivers it makes it easier to get on the same page because they are getting open,” Manning said. Tampa Bay’s receiving corps is led by wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and tight ends O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate and longtime Brady teammate Rob Gronkowski.

One of the other top quarterback storylines this offseason emerged in last month’s NFL Draft, when the Packers controversially traded up to select Utah State’s Jordan Love in the first round. Love is now assumed to be the successor to franchise icon Aaron Rodgers.

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Manning is sure Rodgers, who had previously spoken of his desire to finish his career at Green Bay in his 40s, would not have liked the move.

“It was a little bit of deja vu and kinda how it happened with Brett Favre,” said Manning. “When Aaron Rodgers was drafted to Green Bay, obviously they didn’t trade up, but they took a quarterback in the first round when Favre was still playing well and had years left of playing. 

“I’m sure Brett wasn’t real fond of that happening and I’m sure Aaron wasn’t real fond of it happening, especially after going 13-3 and playing good football.”

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Frank Gore to sign one-year contract with New York Jets

Frank Gore is back for yet another go in the NFL.

The 15-year veteran running back is signing a one-year contract with the New York Jets, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Tuesday.

Gore, who turns 37 on May 14, became the NFL's No. 3 all-time leading rusher last November. He last served as a backup for the Buffalo Bills, rushing for 599 yards and two touchdowns on 166 carries.

Gore has 15,347 rushing yards in his career, leaving him 1,380 behind Hall of Famer Walter Payton for the No. 2 position.

In New York, Gore will be reunited with coach Adam Gase, whom he played for in 2018 on the Miami Dolphins. Gase also was an offensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers in 2008, when Gore ran for 1,036 yards and six touchdowns for the team.

The Jets will be the fifth NFL team for Gore, who spent the first 10 years of his career with the 49ers before spending three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and one season each with the Dolphins and Bills.

Gase is looking to revive an offense that ranked last in the NFL in total yards (273 per game) and 31st in rushing (78.6). 

In an interview on ESPN's "Flight Deck" podcast last week, Gase said he wanted to ease the burden on starting running back Le'Veon Bell, who averaged career lows of 789 rushing yards and 3.2 yards per carry in 2019, his first season with the Jets.

"I do think we have some guys that can help maybe lessen the load on [Bell] to where it's not all on him," Gase said. "Hopefully, we can get some of the younger backs to where we can make a good one-two punch to where we can really excel instead of feeling like it's just all on him all the time."

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Atlanta Falcons acquire former Miami Dolphins first-rounder Charles Harris

The Atlanta Falcons have brought in another former first round pick to bolster the defensive line. 

Atlanta announced Friday it traded a seventh round pick in the 2021 NFL draft to the Miami Dolphins for defensive end Charles Harris, whom the Dolphins selected 22nd overall in 2017. 

The Falcons took a different defensive end, Takk McKinley, four picks after the Dolphins' selection of Harris. On Wednesday, the team declined McKinley's fifth-year option.  

Joining McKinley and Harris is former No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler (2015), who signed a three-year, $48 million deal this offseason. To address the interior of the line, which ranked 29th in sacks last season (28), Atlanta picked Marlon Davidson out of Auburn in the second round. 

We have traded a 2021 7th round draft pick to the Dolphins for DE Charles Harris.

Welcome to Atlanta, @Charles_AO1!

📝 – https://t.co/T2HiZphjlBpic.twitter.com/2fuWYvxes9

For the Dolphins, Harris is the second former first-round defensive lineman they've moved on from in the last two days — they released Taco Charlton on Thursday. 

Harris, 25, appeared in 41 games over three seasons with Miami. His most productive year was his rookie campaign, when he set career highs in solo tackles (15), tackles for loss (5) and quarterback hits (12). 

The 6-foot-5, 252-pound Missouri product started five games in 2019 as the Dolphins transitioned to a 3-4 defense, and he managed just ½ sack.

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