NFL Notes: Jets meet with McCown, Smith agrees to deal with Giants

NFL Notes: Jets meet with McCown, Smith agrees to deal with Giants

NEW YORK -- A person with direct knowledge of the situation says that free agent quarterback Josh McCown is meeting with the New York Jets.

The quarterback-needy Jets have just the inexperienced Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg on their roster and McCown would provide a veteran presence who could potentially start and be a mentor to the youngsters.

McCown will meet with the Jets on Friday and Saturday, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the visit.

NFL Network first reported McCown's visit with New York.

McCown, who'll turn 38 on July 4, played the last two seasons with Cleveland. He played in 13 games for the Browns, throwing for 3,209 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Giants: QB Geno Smith agrees to a deal
NEW YORK -- A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that quarterback Geno Smith has agreed to terms with the New York Giants.

Like receiver Brandon Marshall last week, Smith is leaving the Jets but remaining in the same stadium. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced.

The 26-year-old Smith was a second-round draft choice by the Jets in 2013, but his stint with them was marred by injuries and inconsistency. He also lost his starting job in 2015 after a teammate broke Smith's jaw with a punch during training camp.

When Smith did get onto the field last season, it was brief. Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched for poor play, but Smith tore his ACL in the second quarter against Baltimore and was done for the season.

The deal is pending Smith passing a physical.

Seahawks: Willson, Shead agree to deals
RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks are bringing back two of their own free agents, agreeing to terms on new deals with tight end Luke Willson and cornerback DeShawn Shead.

The team confirmed the agreements Friday. KIRO-AM first reported the deals. Shead's deal is for one year and worth up to $1.5 million with $1 million guaranteed.

Willson and Shead have spent their entire careers with the Seahawks. Willson was a fifth-round draft pick in 2013 and has caught 74 passes and seven touchdowns in 56 career regular-season games.

Shead was an undrafted free agent who developed into a starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman last season. His value on the free agent market took a hit when he suffered a torn ACL in Seattle's playoff loss to Atlanta and he is not expected to be ready by the start of next season.

NFL: Second female official hired
NEW YORK -- A person with knowledge of the hiring tells The Associated Press that the NFL is adding a second female official, Terri Valenti, to work as an instant replay official next season.

Valenti will join Sarah Thomas, who has been a line judge since 2015. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not announced the hiring.

The instant replay official is the individual in charge of the replay crew at the stadium on game day.

Sporting News first reported Valenti's addition to the NFL's officiating ranks.

Valenti previously worked in college football, the Arena League and the UFL, which no longer is in business. She has also been a Navy engineer and economics professor.

She has experience as a replay communicator from 2012-16 and worked Super Bowl 50.

NFL Notes: Rams' All-Pro Aaron Donald skips OTAs amid contract talks

NFL Notes: Rams' All-Pro Aaron Donald skips OTAs amid contract talks

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald has skipped the Los Angeles Rams' first day of organized team activities while he negotiates a long-term contract extension with the club.

Rams general manager Les Snead says the team knew Donald wouldn't be at their training complex Monday.

Snead acknowledged Donald's absence is because of their contract negotiations, which are reaching "the serious part." The GM is confident Donald will be a long-term fixture on the Rams' line.

The Rams exercised their fifth-year option for 2018 on Donald last month. He will make nearly $7 million next year. Snead has repeatedly said the Rams plan to sign Donald to a long-term deal.

Donald is a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro in his three-year career.

Vikings: Zimmer takes time off after latest eye surgery
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer finally relented, taking some time away from the team to allow his right eye a proper recovery from his latest surgery.

Better in the spring than during the fall, he realized.

As Zimmer departed Monday for some rest and relaxation at his vacation ranch in rural Kentucky, general manager Rick Spielman said the organization anticipates a return by Zimmer "in a few weeks." Players will take the field Tuesday for the first of 13 scheduled offseason practices, including the three-day mandatory minicamp that runs June 13-15.

"We all agree Mike's health is the priority, and we believe rest and recovery are in his best interest for the long term," Spielman said.

Zimmer directed a free youth football camp Saturday at team headquarters. He revealed to reporters that he underwent an eighth procedure on the eye last week, a trying seven-month stretch that has included several unplanned operations (see full story).

Jets: Former 2nd-round pick Smith waived
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Wide receiver Devin Smith has been waived from the injury list by the New York Jets.

A second-round draft pick from Ohio State in 2015, Smith rarely saw the field for the Jets. He tore his ACL during the offseason workout program after he appeared in four games last season. He started that season on the physically unable to perform list while rehabbing from another ACL tear suffered in December 2015.

If Smith clears waivers, he would revert to the Jets' injured reserve list.

"It's bad luck and bad timing because the kid worked so hard to get back," coach Todd Bowles said last month during the NFL draft. "He has to persevere and adversity will help him get stronger. But unfortunately in this game, over my course of time playing and coaching, you see these types of things. Some of the best athletes get hurt and don't get a chance to get on the field, and it's just bad timing, bad luck."

The Jets also re-signed wide receiver WR Deshon Foxx on Monday. Foxx originally signed with the Jets in January and was waived May 9. The Connecticut product first signed with Seattle 2015 after going undrafted and was waived/injured with a hamstring injury that August.

Buccaneers: TE Howard signs rookie deal
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tight end O.J. Howard has signed his rookie contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Howard, who was the 19th overall pick in last month's NFL draft, signed a four-year deal on Monday that includes a team option for a fifth season. He is the first of Tampa Bay's six draft picks to sign.

Howard, who is 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds, was a third-team Associated Press All-America selection last season. He started 12 of Alabama's 14 games last season and had 45 receptions for 595 yards and three touchdowns.

The drafting of Howard and signing DeSean Jackson in free agency should give Jameis Winston more options in Tampa Bay's passing game.

The Buccaneers also announced that defensive end Jacquies Smith has signed his restricted free agent tender.

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

For the most part, Carson Wentz had a pretty successful rookie season. 

Sure, the Eagles finished with a 7-9 record, but Wentz did enough to continue the franchise's belief that he is indeed the quarterback of the future. 

Another guy in Dallas did the same thing with the Cowboys. Actually, Dak Prescott had an even more impressive rookie season, leading the Cowboys to 13 wins, while winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. 

Prescott, a fourth-round pick, had a great year but didn't try to do too much. And that's what impressed Eagles head coach Doug Pederson the most. 

"[Prescott] understood this right away, that he didn't have to win the game for them," Pederson said on The Doomsday Podcast, hosted by Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. (Pederson also talked about running the Rocky steps). "He knew that he had a good defense, a tremendous offensive line, a great runner, he had some veteran players that he could rely on and he learned that early. As soon as he had the opportunity to play and that was early, from Day 1. 

"That's something that a young quarterback, sometimes it takes them a while to figure out the game that way. That's the impressive thing, that he learned how to handle that business that well, utilize the people around him and understand that he didn't have to go win the game."

While Prescott had plenty of help during his rookie season, it was pretty evident Wentz was lacking in that area. 

Prescott had a great offensive line, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and others. Wentz had an offensive line that was missing Lane Johnson, an often-injured Ryan Mathews and receivers like Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham playing serious snaps. 

So it made sense when the team went out this offseason and signed Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and recently LeGarrette Blount, as free agents, finally getting Wentz some real help. 

"We had opportunities to get those two guys and it was obvious last year, we were young at the wide receiver position," Pederson said. "We needed some leadership, some veteran presence there and we went out and got that with Torrey and Alshon. We still want to build through the draft, we still want to acquire young talent. 

"LeGarrette Blount now is a guy that gives us that big back, running back, that can come in and compete and hopefully he does everything he did at New England the last couple of seasons. He had 18 rushing touchdowns for over 1,000 yards and we just expect that same level of performance here."

Maybe having weapons will allow Wentz to do what made Prescott so impressive to Pederson in 2016: not too much.