Adrian Peterson to visit New Orleans Saints next week

Second-year receiver Michael Thomas is questionable to play against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday after being added to the report Saturday with a hamstring injury.

Aside from Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, Thomas is New Orleans’ most indispensable offensive weapon. Thomas is only the second receiver to start his career with back-to-back seasons of 90-plus receptions and 1,000-plus yards (Odell Beckham). He’s also a Falcons killer. Thomas has averged at least seven receptions, 70 receiving yards and a TD in three career games against Atalnta.

The former second-round pick played four seasons with the Denver Broncos and two with the Los Angeles Chargers. Franklin started all 16 games for the Chargers in 2016, but became expendable after Los Angeles drafted two guards in the draft. The Bolts cut Franklin in May.

The short stint doesn’t look good for him but a team to be on the watch for is the Jets. Before signing with New Orleans, Franklin took a visit with Gang Green.

Peterson visited Seattle early in free agency, only to see the Seahawks sign Eddie Lacy instead. His meeting with New England came and went without a contract, while the Patriots remain interested in re-signing LeGarrette Blount.

SiriusXM NFL Radio reported earlier this week that three to five teams are interested in Peterson, who has not set a price nor has he turned down an offer. The seven-time Pro Bowler has made it clear that he’s willing to remain patient in hopes of finding the perfect fit entering his age-32 season.

Cue the Debbie Downers, uh, we mean overzealous Saints fans pointing out how this kind of behavior is why the Saints have finished 7-9 — and missed the playoffs — for three consecutive seasons.

Everyone needs a break for a bit of fun sometimes. Even members of your favorite football team. Instead of sweating at organized team activities, the Saints were on the move in a scavenger hunt throughout New Orleans this morning.

In their seemingly yearly effort to rebuild a woebegone defense, adding Butler would give the Saints a rising star at corner, allowing them to select for need during this year’s draft, which is loaded at pass rusher — another big priority for the Saints.

Butler wants to be paid like the star corner he’s become since making his famous game-winning play in Super Bowl XLIX. After the Patriots shelled out big money to cornerback Stephon Gilmore at the start of free agency, it’s seemed Butler’s ticket to getting paid is leaving New England.

A playmaker on the back end, Vaccaro is a do-everything defensive back who was a starter right off the bat for New Orleans. He’ll play this season on his fifth-year option, a one-year guaranteed contract worth $5.7 million.

On one hand, for a defense that struggled mightily last week with youth and inconsistency, it seems odd to shop one of its best players. On the other hand, contract talks this past offseason did not prove fruitful and he’s a pending free agent for 2018. Talent has not been a question, but there has been some inconsistency.

Former Redskins GM auctioning merch for charity

The sentiment from Jackson is nice, but money talks in free agency. Jackson didn’t exactly quash speculation about returning to the Philadelphia Eagles during the season — the team that cut him three years ago.

There also have been rumors that the Redskins don’t value Jackson as highly as he might value himself. Mike Jones of the Washington Post reported Thursday that Jackson is “too inconsistent for management’s taste.”

That said, they do get people talking, and I suppose the shadowy league figures on Park Avenue take solace in that, even if many of the reviews have been less than flattering.

The Washington Redskins — no stranger to uniform controversy — don’t care. Tucked into a large group of potential rule change proposals released by the league on Thursday is a proposal by the ‘Skins to opt out of Color Rush forever. Forget that the team has never had to actually play in a game wearing Color Rush threads (at least not yet). Their one-word explanation for the rule change is a perfect example how sometimes one thousands words are unnecessary when one can just as effectively drop the hammer.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo first reported Sunday that Manusky would be elevated to the post. Rob Ryan and Mike Pettine also got looks for the job, among others. Manusky, a 12-year NFL veteran, was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco, San Diego and Indianapolis before coming back to Washington in 2016 as their outside linebackers coach.

The team also formalized the promotion of offensive coordinator (and former quarterbacks coach) Matt Cavanaugh on Monday. Former Browns quarterbacks coach and 49ers offensive assistant Kevin O’Connell was hired to become Washington’s quarterbacks coach.

Scot McCloughan was fired by the Washington Redskins in March, a move that ended a brief run with the team that began with optimism and ended under a cloud of rumors and suspicion.

McCloughan is no longer tied to the ‘Skins, so why not do something with what we presume is a sizable amount of team merch? McCloughan’s visual trademark with Washington was a camouflage Redskins cap, and that’s one of the items he’s now put up for auction on eBay.

Slants founder Simon Tam tried to trademark the band name in 2011, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the request on the ground that it disparages Asians. A federal appeals court in Washington later said the law barring offensive trademarks is unconstitutional.

The Redskins made similar arguments after the trademark office ruled in 2014 that the name offends American Indians and canceled the team’s trademark. A federal appeals court in Richmond put the team’s case on hold while waiting for the Supreme Court to rule in the Slants case.

Allen danced around the question of whether the team would hire an actual GM or simply add to the player personnel and scouting staff.

“From the beginning, you know, I’m real proud of what the guys did this year in free agency and in this draft,” Allen said. “As I’ve said, we have a lot of quality people who performed well under some tough situations this year. This draft class, the excitement it’s brought to our locker room, it’s exciting, so we’re looking to add to [the front office], we’ll see who that is.”

Eagles, 49ers talking Torrey Smith trade

Eagles coach Doug Pederson initially said after Mathews suffered the injury in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks that the lead back was day-to-day. But now that Mathews is slated to be sidelined for at least one week, Pederson has changed his tune.

“There’s always that fear, especially with the knee. We just want to make sure that it’s 100 percent before we put him back out on the practice field,” Pederson told reporters Saturday. “There is a concern that it could linger because now we will be coming off a Monday night game into a short week and going back on the road, so we’ve just got to find out next Wednesday where he’s at.”

Jamison Crowder is a fascinating athlete who notched his third touchdown of the season after shredding the Ravens last week with an 85-yard punt return to the house. Sunday’s score — a beautiful 16-yard grab in the back-left corner of the end zone — marked the fourth touchdown of the year for a Redskins wideout now serving as a core member of Washington’s air attack.

It gets no easier for the skidding Eagles, who play eight of their final 11 games against clubs that currently have a winning record, including the Vikings, Cowboys, Falcons, Seahawks, Packers, Redskins, Ravens and Cowboys.

Although Philadelphia’s 2017 first-round pick went to Cleveland in the Carson Wentz trade, general manager Howie Roseman compensated by picking up Minnesota’s top draft pick in the Sam Bradford swap. The Eagles also have an extra fourth-round selection from the Browns deal.

Roseman has been one of the most active wheelers-and-dealers since regaining his office from Kelly. It will be no surprise if Smith is soon catching passes from Wentz as the Eagles try to keep pace with the Dallas Cowboys in a tight NFC East race.

“When this coaching staff came in, they told us, ‘We’re going to give you the tools you guys need to own this defense. You guys need to take it over,'” cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “That’s a great feeling as players and I think you see the results.”

With Fletcher Cox making an early case for consideration behind Von Miller in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion, Brandon Graham in a defense better suited to his talents and a playmaking safety duo in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, the Eagles defense is soaring. Through three games it’s the prefect mesh of talent and scheme.

“I don’t have any connections with the Eagles or I wouldn’t be out there on my lunch break not getting lunch,” Lloyd told BillyPenn.com on Tuesday. “I clock out for lunch early to get there. I have a boss who’s cool enough to let me take a lunch break at 11 o’clock to go see Swoop and give him a high five.”

Obviously, the Eagles have no limits to how many times someone can win the contest, though we suspect that’s something that might change before next season. Not that I’d agree with it: If Mr. Lloyd is winning these tickets fair and square, the Eagles should build the contest around that. Kind of like how ratings on Jeopardy! shot up when Ken Jennings won 74 games in a row.

Those young linemen include recent draft picks Bronson Kaufusi, Carl Davis and Willie Henry in addition to undrafted 2016 standout Michael Pierce.

From the Eagles’ perspective, they sacrificed 25 spots in the draft for a one-year audition with a talented underachiever at a position of need. It’s likely no coincidence that vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas was in Baltimore’s front office when Jernigan was drafted out of Florida State.

Jaguars DB Jalen Ramsey undergoes surgery

The trick in Jacksonville boils down to turning quarterback Blake Bortles into a reliably functional starter. Fans saw progress in the signal-caller over Marrone’s two-week coaching stint to close the season, but Bortles was a white-hot mess for much of the year.

As the team’s website points out, though, the Jaguars saw considerable improvement after Hackett replaced Olson, with the offense trending up in time of possession (30th to 13th), goal-to-go efficiency (15th to fourth) and red-zone efficiency (16th to fifth). During that span, Jacksonville also upped its ground game from 30th in yards to fifth and 26th to 13th in yards per rush.

Although Garrett is widely expected to be the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns, the Jaguars aren’t far behind with the No. 4 overall selection. Whether the Jaguars might look to trade up for Garrett, or if he were to somehow fall to No. 4, the club is getting its homework done on the draft’s top player.

More realistically, the Jaguars could land any of three rushers coming to Jacksonville this week for visits, as well. LSU’s Leonard Fournette, FSU’s Dalvin Cook and Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon will head to the First Coast, as well, per the Florida Times-Union. Fournette and Cook are expected to be first-round selections, while it appears Mixon, whose draft stock has been hurt by character concerns, could fall to Round 2. The Jaguars’ second-round pick comes at No. 35 overall. They ranked 22nd in the NFL last year in rushing at 101.9 yards per game. Leading rushers T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory rushed for fewer than 500 yards each and scored just four touchdowns between them.

Getting Allen Robinson involved early was key for Bortles. In his previous five games, Robinson compiled 105 total yards. Saturday, A-Rob went for 147 yards on nine receptions (12 targets). Robinson corralled receptions of 37, 28, 21, 18 and 16 yards. When Robinson is making plays for Bortles, the Jags can be a potent offense. Games like Saturday leave you shaking your head, wondering how the duo could post so many woeful afternoons this season.

The Titans couldn’t get anything going on the ground against Jacksonville, posting just 58 total rushing yards. The Jags’ defense swarmed the line of scrimmage. Young players showed the promise on the Jags roster that will make Jacksonville a desirable destination for the next coach. Dante Fowler Jr. was in Mariota’s face early, notching a sack, three QB hits, two passes defended, and hit the quarterback’s arm on a pivotal third down play early in the second half. Rookie corner Jalen Ramsey continued his dynamic season, breaking up four passes and piled on the Titans with a pick-6 of Cassel.

This was not a difficult decision. During his breakout sophomore year, Bortles was one of the higher-ceilinged quarterbacks in the NFL before a regression in Year 3. Because the option is only guaranteed for injury, the Jaguars can quickly cut ties if Bortles’ slide continues. If he bounces back, they have another season with an affordable passer under center.

The Jaguars were an obvious candidate to select LSU running back Leonard Fournette from Day 1 given how the power back can aid Bortles and negate some of their trouble up front. However, the pre-draft rumor mill, which at times associated Jacksonville with a passer, clouded some opinions on the eventual move.

Linder moved to center in 2016, where he shined as one of the best young players at the position. Pro Football Focus rated Linder as their No. 5 center last season.

The 25-year-old excelled at guard as a rookie in 2014 before missing most of his second season due to injury. The switch to center went seamlessly last season, making it a no-brainer for the cap-space flush Jags to lock down their young blocker for the long-haul.

With all the pressure mounting on Jacksonville’s defense to be great, nipping any nagging injury in the bud during the summer break was the right move. Ramsey, who played up to lofty expectations last year with a pair of interceptions (one brought back for a touchdown), 14 pass breakups, a forced fumble and 55 solo tackles. The club spent lavishly this offseason atop the cornerback market, pairing Ramsey with former Texans standout A.J. Bouye in order to build on their strengths.

Most of the time, core muscle injuries simply need rest and time. With a month-and-a-half break coming up, Ramsey has just that.

Jay Gruden: Redskins anticipate Kirk Cousins returning

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Still a savvy route runner with plenty left in the tank, Garcon is coming off a 79-catch, 1,041-yard season with three touchdowns.

With a bevy of teams in need of a veteran receiver — including Tennessee, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Rams, etc. — Garcon should have several options on the open market. While the Redskins haven’t ruled out retaining Garcon, his expected market — reportedly around $9 million per season — likely means he’ll be wearing a new jersey in 2017.

“It was really hurtful learning that the Redskins didn’t really offer me a contract,” Baker said on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Friday, “being that I was one of their best defensive linemen on their team for the last couple of years and really worked my way up from the practice squad to being one of the best linemen. And for them not to offer me was very hurtful, but I understand it’s a business and I’m very happy to move forward with the Buccaneers and I think I really have a bright future there.”

Baker hasn’t been shy about expressing his discontent with how things ended with the Redskins. The tackle tweeted this directed message immediately after his deal was announced.

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But there are other possibilities floating out there for the QB, namely a reunion with former Skins offensive coordinator, current Falcons offensive coordinator and likely new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Shanahan was “integral” in drafting Cousins in 2012 and that the Niners would “make a run” at Cousins if Washington doesn’t make him their franchise quarterback.

Gruden’s response to those rumors is a good sign for those still invested in and excited for Cousins’ future in D.C. Since being named starter in 2015, Cousins has thrown for 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns and just 23 interceptions and in that time, the Redskins went 17-14-1. He’s completed nearly 70 percent of his passes — an incredibly high total on par with some of the game’s best quarterbacks.Kevin Durant jersey

The Redskins didn’t have a first-round draft pick, so David Amerson will get the attention of a top selection. He has the talent to match. Amerson made 13 interceptions as a sophomore at N.C. State, but he gambled too much and was beat often as a junior. He has first-round ability in terms of his physical tools and is known for his competitiveness, but he just didn’t play well last year.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock called Amerson a “boom or bust” player with a chance to play right away. The veterans ahead of him — Josh Wilson, DeAngelo Hall and cheap jerseys and E.J. Biggers — all are year-to-year players by now. Amerson should start in 2013. Safeties Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo also could be asked to play bigger roles sooner rather than later because the Redskins are so thin in the secondary.

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The preseason is coming to a close. The fourth week of preseason could be gone for good. Predictions? Here to stay. This week, you’ll get a two-for-one in NFL prognostication.

I’ve gone through and worked out the most — and least — each NFL team can hope to achieve in the win/loss column this season. A challenging feat, considering that while some teams treated big hits in the preseason like they came on fourth-and-goal in Week 16 (SEE: Chiefs vs. Seahawks), others treated their big-time players like they were delicate china, barely using them at all (SEE: Eagles’ starting offense, Preseason ’17). Thus, the spectrum for each team’s predictions can range from postseason berth to getting Hackenberg’d.

With Matt Jones headed out of town, Kelley heads into training camp as the starter, but will be pushed by fourth-round rookie Samaje Perine. Kelley knows he must diversify his game and remain in shape to keep the starting role past the preseason.

“It’s hard not to say you don’t feel some type [of pressure] when they bring another back in,” Kelley said. “But it’s the [NFL], someone comes in every year to try and take your job. If Samaje comes in here and does what he has to do, it’s not his fault if he’s playing better. I have to play better than him so I don’t feel no type of way. It’s all on me.”