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Le’Veon Bell was trained in the uncertainty of the long-term deal

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Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is training in Los Angeles and feeling healthy after offseason groin surgery.

Is a big contract to follow? The Steelers have until July 17 to work out a long-term deal with Bell, who would otherwise play this season under the franchise tag at $12.1 million.

“I’m good with everything, just taking it day to day for real,” Bell told ESPN about how he is approaching the process.

The Steelers have expressed interest in giving Bell a long-term extension, but negotiations could push close to the deadline. A deal would likely make Bell the NFL’s highest-paid running back, a spot currently occupied by Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy at $8 million per year.

Bell, 25, is the only player who has yet to sign his franchise tender or reach a long-term deal this season. As such, he didn’t participate in the Steelers’ mandatory minicamp, as he would have had to sign a waiver to do so.

As part of his training, Bell has been playing pickup basketball.

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After being charged with the nightclub rebellion, LB Lorenzo Mauldin was arrested

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New York Jets linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin was arrested Wednesday and charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly attacking a man in an April 2 nightclub altercation, according to a New York Police Department spokesperson.

Mauldin, 24, is accused of punching Jean Lopez, 22, of Queens, in the face, per the arrest report. Mauldin could face up to a year in jail, if convicted. He also could be disciplined by the NFL, if he is found to be in violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.

“We have been monitoring developments and this matter is under review of the personal conduct policy,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

Responding to an arrest warrant, Mauldin turned himself in Wednesday morning at the 10th precinct and was issued a desk-appearance ticket for Aug. 16. He was accompanied by his attorney, Alex Spiro, who has represented many professional athletes in high-profile cases, including JR Smith and Thabo Sefolosha.

“We’ll answer the charges in court,” Spiro told ESPN.

In June, Lopez filed a civil suit against Mauldin, claiming he suffered multiple facial fractures from the attack. Lopez said Mauldin punched him because he spilled champagne on the player.

“Of course, I was shocked [by the lawsuit], but with everything going on right now, it’s pending,” Mauldin told reporters during last week’s minicamp. “You don’t know what the outcome is going to be, so I’ll just refer everything to my attorney for questions.”

When the civil suit surfaced, Mauldin’s attorney proclaimed his client’s innocence, saying there were multiple witnesses that would confirm he had nothing to do with the alleged assault.

Mauldin, a third-round pick out of Louisville, is entering his third season and is projected as a starter on defense.

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Derek Carr may be the league’s first $ 25 million quarterback

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The Derek Carr contract drama has been anything but dramatic. Neither Carr nor the Oakland Raiders are in a concerted hurry to get the deal done, and the quarterback has resolved that if the contract isn’t worked out by the start of training camp in late July, then they “won’t be talking about it” going into the season.

Despite a dearth of reported discussion between the sides, the expectation is that Carr and the Raiders will have to come to terms, and when they do it will be for record-setting money.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday on NFL Network’s Up to the Minute Live that, if and when the Raiders lock up their franchise QB, Carr could become the first quarterback to earn $25 million per year. Colts signal-caller Andrew Luck currently paces all QBs with a $24.6 million average salary.

Carr certainly ranks alongside Luck as one of the top young quarterbacks in the league and, unlike Luck, is the leader of one of the only AFC teams with enough firepower to contend with the Super Bowl champion Patriots. But there is still one thing standing in Carr’s way of eclipsing Luck’s contract number, and he plays in the NFC East.

A potential contract for the Redskins’ franchise-tagged quarterback Kirk Cousins could completely rewrite the market for Carr, Rapoport reports. A long-term deal between Cousins and Washington would have to be worked out by the July 15 deadline for signing tendered players. If a Cousins contract was concocted by then, that would give Carr and the Raiders, Rapoport explains in this scenario, less than two weeks to negotiate a new deal and meet Carr’s self-imposed deadline. (The likelihood of this playing out is unknown at this time, but we’re saying there’s a chance.)

Either way, there is next to no doubt that Carr will eventually sign a long-term deal with the Raiders. It’s only a matter of when, and for how much.

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Pats’ Rob Gronkowski gets buzz cut for charity

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski shaved his own head as part of the One Mission Buzz Off at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. The event, now in its eighth year (it was Gronk’s sixth consecutive), has raised more than $7 million for children with cancer. To date, more than 5,000 heads have been shaved at the Buzz Off, and Gronkowski’s appearance — in which he shaves his own head and then shaves others’ — often is one of the highlights.

What it is like to be Gronk in this setting? He gave us an all-access pass to find out.

What is it like to be Rob Gronkowski as he walks from getting his head shaved to the media area? Big welcome from the crowd.

This is what greeted those buzzing their heads today at Gillette Stadium. As expected, Rob Gronkowski’s appearance was a highlight.

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski gets his head shaved for the sixth year in a row at the One Mission Buzz Off for kids with cancer at Gillette Stadium. He says he likes the “summer vibe.”

Rob Gronkowski gets set to shave the heads of his brothers, Gordie and Glenn, as part of the event. He raises his clippers into the air as the crowd cheers.

Rob Gronkowski didn’t do his brother Glenn (left) any favors with his buzz work. But as usual, it is all smiles with the Gronkowskis.

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Baldwin mum on Wilson not being held accountable

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Star quarterbacks have been treated differently than their peers from the beginning of time.

Is that reality creating problems in Seattle?

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin was asked Tuesday to respond to an ESPN The Magazine article suggesting that some teammates believe Wilson has been, at times, shielded from critique by Seattle’s coaching staff.

“I don’t know,” Baldwin told KIRO-AM in Seattle. “Honestly, I didn’t even read the entire article. I read parts of it. Didn’t really have time to read the whole thing. I think Pete [Carroll] does a fantastic job of handling different individuals differently. We all have our different personalities. We all act different ways. And Pete does a fantastic job of accommodating those personalities. He’s done it with me. He’s done it with Russ, with [Richard Sherman], with [Marshawn Lynch], with all of us. And he does a great job at it.”

ESPN The Magazine’s piece zeroes in on Sherman, writing that the star cover man “has told teammates and friends that he believes the Seahawks should have won multiple Super Bowls by now. And with just one trophy and the window closing fast, he has placed responsibility for that failing on the two faces of the franchise: Wilson and Carroll. Sherman, who like Wilson declined comment for this story, thinks Carroll hasn’t held Wilson or many young Seahawks to the defense’s championship standard.”

Along those lines, Baldwin was later asked if Carroll’s guiding message to the team over the years still has the same impact on longtime veterans that it does with rookies and newbies to Seattle.

“If I’m being honest, no,” Baldwin told the radio station. “I’ve heard it for going on seven years now, so I know what he’s going to say when he says it. But it doesn’t get lost. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that it doesn’t have the same impact. It doesn’t have the same impact because I’ve heard it. It doesn’t get lost.”

Said Baldwin: “The first meeting that we have, he raises out the ball and says, ‘It’s all about the ball. We’ve got to take care of the ball. We’ve got to steal it from the offense and take care of it when we have it on offense.’ And those things don’t change. And that’s probably one of the things that I love most about Pete is his consistency when it comes to his philosophy. He’s not going to waver on that. He has a solid foundation on the way he wants to run his program, his philosophy on offense, on defense and special teams. And he sticks to that. He can be adaptable when it comes to the different personalities, but when it comes to his philosophy, he doesn’t change.”

If players on the team are bent out of shape over Wilson receiving favored treatment, it has yet to sink the ship.

The Seahawks have weathered their share of storms during Carroll’s massively successful run in the Pacific Northwest. They invite their players to exude their true personalities — and, so far, it’s worked.

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Ezekiel Elliott injures head in car crash, misses practice

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Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday after he suffered a head injury in a “minor car accident” on Sunday night, the team announced.

Elliott worked off to the side of practice Wednesday as a precaution, NFL Network’s Jane Slater reported. After the session ended, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Elliott would not practice Thursday and would return on Tuesday. He said Elliott was the passenger in a car that was rear-ended on Sunday night. The team learned about the incident on Monday, Garrett added.

Garrett said the head injury isn’t serious, which makes sense given Elliott’s presence at the team facility. Due to the hands-off nature of offseason training activities and Elliott’s stellar grip on the offense, it makes sense to take all the precautions necessary.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Elliott rushed for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns during his Pro Bowl rookie season. With the club already envisioning an expanded role for Elliott in 2017, there is no reason to risk his well-being during a spring walkthrough.

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Browns sign first-rounder Myles Garrett to rookie deal

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The No. 1 overall pick inked his contract.

The Cleveland Browns announced Friday that Myles Garrett signed his four-year, fully guaranteed rookie contract. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports the deal is worth $30.4 million with a $20.25 million signing bonus and includes offset language. As with all first-round picks, the deal comes with a team option for a fifth season.

The consensus top prospect in the 2017 draft, Garrett compiled 31 sacks, 47 tackles for loss and forced seven fumbles during his college career at Texas A&M.

The 6-foot-4, 272-pound physical specimen immediately upgrades Cleveland’s pass rush. The rookie already received rave reviews from veteran Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas this offseason.

“I’m just impressed with his demeanor and his willingness to learn and his humbleness,” Thomas said of Garrett, “but also you see that fire that’s burning inside him to be great and I think those are the hallmarks of guys that have a chance to be really excellent football players.”

In new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense, Garrett can be a game-wrecking talent for years to come in the Browns’ latest rebuilding effort.

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Battery charge against Caleb Brantley dismissed

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The misdemeanor battery charge against Browns rookie defensive tackle Caleb Brantley was dismissed Wednesday due to “insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction,” according to Alachua County (Fla.) Court records.

Brantley, who played college football at the University of Florida, had been charged on suspicion of misdemeanor battery following an alleged physical altercation with a woman, according to a Gainesville Police Department report. Brantley at the time of the alleged incident was considered one of the top interior defensive line prospects in the 2017 draft, but fell to the sixth round after his charge came to light.

“I’m grateful for today’s ruling,” Brantley said in a statement released by the Browns. “I won’t take the opportunity the Browns have given me for granted and now I can shift all my focus on working hard to make this football team while also showing my teammates, coaches, the organization and this community the type of person I really am.”

The Browns selected Brantley with the 185th pick in the draft, and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported at the time that Cleveland deeply researched the matter and personally visited with Brantley before making the pick.

Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown told reporters after the draft, however, the team could decide not to keep Brantley depending on the investigation into the charge.

“Based on our information, we understood there was a reasonable chance that the charges would be dismissed,” Brown said in a statement. “As we have previously discussed, the allegations made regarding the incident were not something we take lightly. Caleb understands that we have an expectation and standard for every member of our organization. He’s a talented-young man with a great opportunity in front of him. Caleb must grow as a person from this situation. He is now able to move forward and focus on earning a spot on this roster.”

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Tom Brady will be on cover of ‘Madden NFL 18′

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Tom Brady can add one more line to the greatest résumé in NFL history: Madden cover boy.

The New England Patriots quarterback will be featured on the cover of Madden NFL 18, EA Sports announced Friday morning. It’s a first for the five-time Super Bowl champion, who follows in the footsteps of teammate Rob Gronkowski, the man on the cover of last year’s edition of the venerable gaming franchise. This marks the first time in Madden’s nearly 30-year history that teammates have been on the cover in back-to-back years.

It’s surprising Brady hadn’t previously garnered cover status given his myriad of accomplishments since entering the league in 2000. Brady, who turns 40 in August, is the oldest guy to grace the cover since John Madden himself was smiling maniacally for the cameras from 1988 through 2000. (Shameless plug: I did a complete power ranking of the 29 covers right here).

But Madden, like the rest of us, can no longer avoid a basic societal truth: Tom Brady has it all. And what he doesn’t have should be immediately turned over to him for fear of consequence. (I just purchased four copies of his $200 cookbook to appease the overlords.)

There’s an alternate universe where the Atlanta Falcons don’t blow a 28-3 third-quarter lead in the Super Bowl and Matt Ryan or perhaps Julio Jones are on the cover of this game. It’s one more indignity for Falcons fans to process during what we imagine continues to be a very difficult time. Ludacris is not getting out of bed today when he hears about this.

On the bright side, Falcons fans don’t have to hear about the infernal “Madden Curse,” a jinx so powerful it once allowed Calvin Johnson to finish a season with an NFL record 1,964 receiving yards. There will be hot takes across the span of your basic cable package today claiming that Brady has now put himself in great danger to see his unparalleled career cruelly compromised by the decision to enter into a business relationship with Electronic Arts Inc.

Counterpoint: Last year, Tom Brady whooped up on Father Time the way Ralphie destroyed Scott Farkus in A Christmas Story. Maybe Brady’s greatest accomplishment will come this year, when he wins his sixth Super Bowl ring and debunks the “Madden Curse” once and for all.

And yes, this is perhaps the greatest reverse jinx ever perpetrated by a sad Jets fan with nothing to lose.

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Cowboys to pump brakes on LB Jaylon Smith’s minicamp workload

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FRISCO, Texas — Jaylon Smith’s return to 11-on-11 work will have to wait until the organized team activities.

After saying during the draft that the Dallas Cowboys’ 2016 second-round pick would participate in the upcoming minicamp for the 2017 rookies, coach Jason Garrett said Sunday night that Smith will go through the meetings and walk-throughs only.

The Cowboys are in Phase 2 of their offseason program, which includes on-field teaching sessions as well as strength and conditioning work. After such a long layoff, the Cowboys want to be smart with Smith’s work on the field and not overly tax him from the start.

“He’s going to do the veteran stuff on the field on Tuesday and Thursday, so I don’t anticipate him doing a lot on the field over the weekend,” Garrett said at the Taste of the Cowboys event benefiting the North Texas Food Bank.

Smith did not play last season as he recovered from a serious knee injury that included nerve damage. He has done everything up to this point in the Cowboys’ offseason program as the nerve that affected his ability to lift his left foot continues to regenerate.

At the draft, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Smith has regained feeling and some movement in his toes that has the club encouraged he could have a full recovery and not need a brace for his foot when the season starts.

The Cowboys begin their organized team activities in two weeks. The offseason program ends after the June 13-15 minicamp.

“It seemed like he handled the work well last week, and he’s just done an amazing job right from the start with his rehab, taking it day by day, making progress, and we’ll continue to do that,” Garrett said. “If he takes that approach, that’s when he’s going to have his most success. That’s what he’s done up to this point.”

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