Buffalo Bills fire general manager Doug Whaley

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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The Buffalo Bills have parted ways with general manager Doug Whaley after four seasons, the team announced Sunday. The news comes hours after the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Bills owner Terry Pegula issued the following statement:

Whaley joined the team as assistant general manager in 2010 and was later hired as general manager in 2013 after Buddy Nix stepped down following that year’s draft. In Whaley’s four seasons as general manager, the team finished 30-34 and had just one winning season (2014). Continue reading

Ron Rivera: Kelvin Benjamin ‘a little heavy’ again

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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The Panthers are entering 2017 with their focus trained on a bounce-back season to remember, but one Panther has apparently allowed his weight to bounce up on the scale.

Kelvin Benjamin showed up for Carolina’s offseason program overweight, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

He is a little heavy,” Rivera said of Benjamin, via the Charlotte Observer. “He knows it. We’ve talked about it. We talked about what he has to do, and he’s done a great job.” Continue reading

Browns trade back into first round, take TE David Njoku

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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The Browns jumped back into the first round late on Thursday night, trading with Green Bay to receive pick No. 29 and select Miami tight end David Njoku.

Cleveland traded the 33rd and 108th selections to move up to 29.

Njoku is a player who is just scratching the surface of his potential. The tight end began to find success as a redshirt freshman before exploding in 2016, catching 43 passes for 698 yards and eight touchdowns for the Hurricanes. Continue reading

Sean Payton: AP to ‘complement’ Mark Ingram

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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Anyone who was worried about how Mark Ingram might take the news of Adrian Peterson‘s arrival can find solace in hearing the incumbent starter is happy — at least publicly — about the acquisition.

I am all about winning, so if that’s what helps us win — I am all for it,” Ingram said on a conference call with media members on Tuesday, per the Saints‘ Twitter account. “Obviously (Peterson) is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I can learn a lot from him.

Now comes the question of how Peterson will fit in a Saints offense that saw Ingram carry the load on the ground, but also included some carries for the since-departed Tim Hightower. Head coach Sean Payton offered some clarity, as Peterson looks to fit as the butter to Ingram’s toast. Continue reading

Steelers’ Martavis Bryant conditionally reinstated

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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Martavis Bryant is back in the NFL.

The Steelers wide receiver has been conditionally reinstated by the league, the team announced Tuesday. Bryant had been suspended for the 2016 season for multiple violations of the league’s policy against substances of abuse.

Martavis Bryant has followed the protocol and has been conditionally reinstated by the National Football League,” steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement released by the team Tuesday. “We appreciate that he has taken the necessary steps in an effort to get his personal life in order. We also understand this is just the beginning as he works to return to the team and meet all of the conditions of his reinstatement.

“We look forward to working with Martavis to ensure that he is mentally and physically prepared to contribute to our efforts on the field, while also maintaining the proper balance to keep his life in order off the field.” Continue reading

Eric Weddle: Ravens will be ‘strongest’ team in history

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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Much of the Ravens‘ struggles in the last few seasons has been due to injuries. Their injured reserve over the last three campaigns has included nearly 60 players combined.

Baltimore is making a concerted effort to change that in 2017.

The Ravens are channeling their health hopes through one man: director of performance Steve Saunders, who has one veteran raving and making bold predictions. Continue reading

Get big: Offensive linemen set up for serious improvement

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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One can point to a stat line for a season and make a general, opinionated observation about most skilled position players. They’re not always correct, but they’re usually in the ballpark. It’s not that simple with linemen, though.

Statistics (really, a lack thereof) make it difficult to predict which linemen are going to improve from year to year. Luckily, for the sake of this space, we’ve considered some other important factors — teammates, fit, specific position, experience — to come up with a small group of linemen who are poised to have impressive seasons in 2017. Continue reading

Bills QB Logan Thomas making switch to tight end

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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Logan Thomas is still adjusting to the switch from quarterback to tight end, per the Buffalo Bill’s official website.

A product of Virginia Tech, Thomas saw his most significant professional playing time as an Arizona Cardinal, appearing in two games and attempting just nine passes. His lone career completion was an 81-yard touchdown pass to Andre Ellington in a 41-20 loss to Denver in 2014. Safe to say, quarterback wasn’t exactly in the cards for Thomas.

The position switch isn’t the first of its kind. Terrelle Pryor went from quarterback to wide receiver, and posted a 1,000-yard receiving season in 2016. A closer comparison would be Dolphins tight end MarQueis Gray, who played quarterback at the University of Minnesota and switched to an H-back/tight end role upon entering the league as an undrafted free agent. Gray also played tight end with the Bills between the end of 2014 and first half of 2015.

The two are also comparable in size, with Gray listed at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, and Thomas at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds. Both are athletic and were bigger quarterbacks who could move, though it’s unknown how well Thomas can catch the ball (to his credit, he caught two passes for 11 yards and a touchdown in his career at Virginia Tech, where he also once backed up current Bills starter Tyrod Taylor). It sounds as though the former Hokie is doing well with the mental transition, at least.

“I had to learn a completely different set of ideals, a completely different verbiage, but it’s going very smoothly,” Thomas said, via the team’s site. “Thankfully going from quarterback to tight end is a lot easier than going from tight end to quarterback.”

Buffalo is installing a new offense with the arrival of coordinator Rick Dennison, so it’s not like Thomas is behind in learning the system.

Dak Prescott: Tony Romo left ‘big shoes’ for me to fill

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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We’ve heard plenty to the contrary, but according to Dak Prescott, things are gravy between he and Tony Romo.

The successor to Romo said as much on Saturday.

“Me and Tony, we’ve always been great throughout this whole situation, before the situation when I came in (as the starter),” Prescott said Saturday in Arlington, per the team’s website. “So nothing’s ever changed. That’s something I’m very thankful were able to manage of keeping our relationship the same throughout everything that was going on. Continue reading

Pierre Garcon: Players loved Scot McCloughan

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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Free agency started with a bang everywhere but in Washington, where the Redskins parted ways with their general manager on the first day of the new league year.

Scot McCloughan’s departure served as the beginning of a new, albeit clunky era in personnel decision-making in Washington. It also came with rumors of internal conflict between he and Bruce Allen and general dislike for the former.

Current 49ers receiver and former Redskin Pierre Garcon┬ásaid that wasn’t the case. Continue reading