NFL Notes: Cowboys set to release Tony Romo

NFL Notes: Cowboys set to release Tony Romo

DALLAS -- A person with knowledge of the decision tells The Associated Press that the Dallas Cowboys will release quarterback Tony Romo when the NFL year opens on Thursday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't announced a decision on Romo, who will get a chance to pursue a starting job elsewhere.

Romo will leave the Cowboys as the franchise leader in yards passing and touchdowns after losing the starting job to rookie Dak Prescott. Dallas' 10-year starter broke a bone in his back in a preseason game last year.

Romo, who turns 37 next month, threw for 34,183 yards and 248 touchdowns, but could never match the postseason success of Super Bowl winners Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman (see full story).

Giants: Brandon Marshall joining on 2-year deal
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning and the New York Giants now have two legitimate threats on the outside.

The Giants found a complement to Odell Beckham Jr. on Wednesday by signing veteran free-agent receiver Brandon Marshall to a two-year, $12 million contact.

Marshall said the Giants' offer might have been the lowest that he got after being released by the Jets last week.

However, Ben McAdoo's team, which made the playoffs with an 11-5 record last season, offered him something else.

"It was all about championships," said Marshall, who has never made the playoffs since being drafted in the first round by Denver in 2006. "To get straight to the point -- it was all about a championship, they presented the best opportunity to be in a championship organization."

Marshall offers the Giants a lot. He is a big target at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, and he has been productive. In 167 regular-season games with Denver, Miami, Chicago and the Jets, he has caught 941 passes for 12,061 yards and 82 touchdowns (see full story).

Bills: Tyrod Taylor will continue to start at QB
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Tyrod Taylor will remain the Buffalo Bills starter after the team announced it has restructured the player's five-year contract extension.

The team revealed the news in a press release issued Wednesday, a day before the NFL's free-agency period began. The Bills had until Saturday to determine whether to pick up the extension Taylor signed in August or part ways with the two-year starter.

Taylor's long-term future in Buffalo had otherwise been in question since the season ended, when general manager Doug Whaley declined to say whether the team was committed to keeping the player. Newly hired coach Sean McDermott also declined to discuss Taylor's future after he took over in January after Rex Ryan's dismissal.

Taylor has a 15-14 record in two seasons with Buffalo (see full story).

Redskins: Vernon Davis re-signs on 3-year deal
WASHINGTON -- When Vernon Davis mentioned after his 11th NFL season that he'd like to play six more, it brought some laughs.

He wasn't kidding.

Davis believes he can play for more than another half-decade and took a big step toward that goal by re-signing with the Washington Redskins on a three-year contract. The 33-year-old revealed the length of the deal on his Snapchat account late Tuesday night, and the team announced the new contract Wednesday morning.

The Washington native revitalized his career last season with the Redskins, starting 14 games and catching 44 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns. In 11 seasons, the Maryland product has 505 receptions for 6,424 yards and 57 touchdowns.

"I felt like I just fell in love with the game all over again," he said.

Davis was traded from the San Francisco 49ers to the Denver Broncos in 2015 and won the Super Bowl as a complementary player. The Broncos let him go, allowing him to sign with the Redskins last year (see full story).

Dolphins: Exclusive rights free agents tendered
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins announced Monday they've tendered four exclusive rights free agents, including center Anthony Steen, who started seven games last year.

Also tendered were linebacker Mike Hull, cornerback Lafayette Pitts and tight end Thomas Duarte.

Steen, undrafted as a rookie in 2014, filled in when center Mike Pouncey was hurt last season. Hull and Pitts were valuable on special teams, and Duarte spent much of last season on the practice squad.

Exclusive rights free agents are players with less than three years of experience, and they are unable to negotiate with other teams.

Chiefs: Harris arrested for drug possession 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri State Highway Patrol says Kansas City Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris has been arrested on suspicion of felony possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The Kansas City Star reports that Harris was a passenger in a car stopped Tuesday on Interstate 49. He was taken to the Bates County Jail, where he was booked and released. He has not been charged.

Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe says the car was stopped for a traffic violation. He says a trooper smelled marijuana and found the drug on Harris.

The 25-year-old Harris was the Chiefs' backup tight end behind Travis Kelce the last two seasons and has played in 32 games while making 20 starts.

Chiefs spokesman Ted Crews declined comment.

Panthers: Whittaker re-signs on 2-year deal
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Panthers have re-signed running back running back Fozzy Whittaker to a two-year contract as Carolina continued to retain potential free agents.

Financial terms of the new deal were not announced Wednesday.

The 28-year-old Whittaker served as Jonathan Stewart's backup last season in Carolina and rushed for 265 yards and averaged a team-high 4.6 yards per carry. He caught 25 passes for 226 yards.

He also served on special teams, returning 12 kickoffs for 275 yards.

Whittaker joined the Panthers in 2014 and has played in 55 games with four starts. He's rushed for 597 yards on 142 carries with two touchdowns and has 505 yards receiving on 63 catches with three touchdowns since his arrival.

The Panthers already have re-signed several players, including defensive linemen Charles Johnson, Mario Addison and Wes Horton; and wide receiver Brenton Bersin.

Lions: Hyder, Copeland and Jones tendered
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions have tendered defensive ends Kerry Hyder and Brandon Copeland and wide receiver TJ Jones.

The Lions announced the moves Wednesday.

Hyder had a team-high eight sacks last season, emerging as a surprising standout . He was undrafted in 2014 and spent nearly two seasons on practice squads with the New York Jets and Lions before making his NFL debut in the last game of the 2015 season.

Copeland, who primarily played on special teams, had 11 tackles and forced a fumble last season. Jones has 15 career receptions for 225 yards and a TD in 13 games.

All three players are exclusive rights free agents, who have less than three years of experience and are unable to negotiate with other teams.

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Ezekiel Elliott was the fourth overall pick by the Cowboys in the 2016 NFL draft.

He went on to have a historic rookie season, leading the NFL in rushing behind the best offensive line in football.

But do you know who finished second in the league in rushing? That would be the Bears' Jordan Howard, another rookie, drafted in the fifth round. 

If you keep going down the list of the league's top rushers last season, nine out of the top 10 on the list were drafted after the first round. Only three backs in the top 10 were drafted in the first two rounds (Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Le'Veon Bell). 

Whether it's LSU's Leonard Fournette, Florida State's Dalvin Cook or Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, the Eagles should stay away from running backs in the first round.

We'll start with Fournette, considered by most to be the best running back in the class. He was also mocked to the Eagles in a trade-up scenario by Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke with the No. 5 overall pick. Burke is an excellent evaluator, but in this case, he's off the mark. Fournette's talent is real. His combination of size and speed is unmatched by any running back in the class and perhaps any running back in the NFL. He'll correctly be the first back off the board and go in the top 10. 

But would the Eagles give up a second-round pick to obtain Fournette? It's just hard to see as realistic. This team has too many holes and not enough draft picks to make a move like Burke suggests. Fournette looks like he'll be a special player, just not for the Eagles.

Then there's Cook, who seems to be the belle of the ball with Eagles fans. Watching the tape, it's undeniable: Cook is an extremely talented player. But evaluations aren't black and white. Cook has issues with injuries (multiple shoulder surgeries) and has had a couple issues off the field. 

He also tested poorly at the combine. In the biggest audition of his life, Cook's numbers didn't match what you saw on tape. That has to make you wonder if he was fully prepared for the combine. If the Eagles take Cook, there's no doubt he'll make their offense better. The biggest concern has to be his long-term success and the value you get taking him at 14 over another player at a more valuable position.

Lastly, there's McCaffrey. It's easy to see the fit here. McCaffrey is an explosive back who runs routes and has the ball skills of a receiver. He's also incredibly dangerous in the return game. Unlike Cook, McCaffrey tested off the charts in Indy. His strength (10 reps at 225) is the only real concern.

From a scheme perspective, McCaffrey is perfectly suited for Doug Pederson's offense. Pederson can use McCaffrey much like Andy Reid used Brian Westbrook over a decade ago. McCaffrey's struggles running between the tackles are a little overblown, but it still has to be a concern for a team that doesn't have a proven, primary back. 

This is also a strong running back class. Toledo's Kareem Hunt would fit nicely in this offense and should be available in the third round. Clemson's Wayne Gallman is a tough, versatile back that could be available in the third or fourth. There's also BYU's Jamaal Williams, Pitt's James Conner and Wyoming's Brian Hill, all of whom should be there in the middle rounds.

When you look at who else could be there at 14, it just doesn't make sense to draft a running back. If you're looking to give Carson Wentz more weapons, either Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis or Washington's John Ross should be there. Any of them could give Wentz a long-term receiving threat. 

If you're looking to improve the defense, there are plenty of options. In case you've been living under a rock this offseason, this cornerback draft class is crazy deep. Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore is the best of the bunch and will likely be gone by 14. His teammate, Gareon Conley, should still be around at 14. So should LSU's TreDavious White, Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersely and Florida's Quincy Wilson. 

Don't count out Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett as an option if he's on the board. With Vinny Curry's struggles and the Eagles' lack of depth, a pass rusher is a definite need. If Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster slips for a spat he had with a hospital worker during the combine, he's worth a long look. He's a game-changing 'backer.

Elliott was as close to a sure thing as you can get. There's a reason he was taken at No. 4 overall. If Cook and McCaffrey are there at 14, there's a reason for that, too. 

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie isn't often very outspoken on football or political matters. 

He has apparently made an exception. 

Just a few days before Lurie is tentatively scheduled to speak to Philadelphia reporters while in Phoenix for the league's annual meetings, the Eagles owner authored a story for Time Magazine railing against political polarization in Washington.

Lurie has not spoken to reporters publicly since last March in Boca Raton, Florida, at the 2016 owners meetings. 

The owner's essay was published just hours after House Republican leaders pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday afternoon. Lurie, for the record, donated money to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign last year.

Lurie, the Eagles' 65-year-old billionaire owner, in the story, uses football as an example for which Washington should strive. 

Here's how Lurie begins the piece:

"What do football, political polarization and autism have in common? They all illuminate aspects of the human condition, explaining who we are, where we are headed and the hurdles along the way. As a sports team owner I rarely publicly discuss politics, but as a member of a family touched by autism, I often think about the unspoken millions of people who live with the daily challenges of this disorder."

Lurie then goes on to explain why football can act as a guide for Washington when it comes to united for the common good:

"What I have learned from football can be applied to society at large. Just as we intensely game-plan against an opponent in sports, we need to game plan for the reality and consequences of polarization. Extreme polarization is the opponent -- not each other. A football team is made up of players from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and political viewpoints. What unites them is grit, determination, and the desire to win. They join in a common goal and do what is necessary to transcend their differences for the greater good of their team.

"What unites Americans is far more negative. We are now in an age where communicating verifiable information becomes secondary to the goal of creating a common enemy that unifies people in fear, negativity and opposition. This masks our inability to solve serious domestic problems (poverty, violence and institutional racism to name three current examples) and diverts our attention from obvious suffering."

Lurie then writes that we, as Americans, have the "necessary resources" to tackle serious problems, like autism, but lack the leadership to put aside differences. 

The whole piece isn't very long and is worth reading in full to gain a better understanding of its context. 

Next week while in Phoenix, Lurie will surely be asked about what motivated him to write the piece.