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    Lions and standout special teams player Jalen Reeves-Maybin agree to $7.5 million, 2-year contract
    2/26/24

    Lions and standout special teams player Jalen Reeves-Maybin agree to $7.5 million, 2-year contract The Associated Press ALLEN PARK, Mich.

    ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions and standout special teams player Jalen Reeves-Maybin have agreed to a $7.5 million, two-year contract that could be worth $8 million with incentives.

    Brian McLaughlin, Reeves-Maybin's agent, confirmed Monday that the deal includes more than $5 million in guarantees, including a $2.5 million signing bonus.

    Reeves-Maybin was a second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl player last season for the NFC North champion Lions, and he helped them win two playoff games in one postseason for the first time since they claimed the 1957 NFL title.

    Detroit drafted Reeves-Maybin out of Tennessee in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL draft and he has played for the franchise in every season other than in 2022, when he was with the Houston Texans.

    Reeves-Maybin matched a career high with 13 tackles on special teams last season and has 60 special teams tackles during his career. He has played in 104 games, including 11 starts at linebacker during the 2021 season, and has made 207 tackles.

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    AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

    Bengals place franchise tag on receiver Tee Higgins
    2/25/24

    Bengals place franchise tag on receiver Tee Higgins The Associated Press CINCINNATI

    CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals placed the franchise tag on receiver Tee Higgins, which likely will keep him with the team at least one more season, the team said Monday.

    If the Bengals can't reach a long-term agreement with the 25-year-old Higgins before July 15, he'll play the 2024 season with the Bengals for a salary of $21.8 million, which is the franchise tag amount for receivers.

    Higgins, a second-round draft pick in 2020, couldn't reach a long-term deal before the final year of his rookie contract.

    As the 2023 season was beginning, quarterback Joe Burrow signed a five-year contract extension worth $275 million. The Bengals are also expected to offer No. 1 receiver Ja'Marr Chase a lucrative long-term deal.

    Higgins has played in 58 regular-season games for Cincinnati and has 257 receptions for 3,684 yards and 24 TDs. He had more than 1,000 receiving yards in 2021 and ’22, becoming one of five players in team history to reach that mark multiple times in his first three seasons.

    “Tee has done an outstanding job for us since we drafted him in 2020,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said in a statement. “I’m glad that he’ll continue to be a big part of our offense and our team.”

    Higgins' production was down in 2023, mainly because he missed five games with injuries.

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    AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

    Eric Beiniemy expected to join UCLA as associate head coach, offensive coordinator, AP sources say
    By JOE REEDY and ROB MAADDI, AP Sports Writers | 
    2/24/24

    Eric Beiniemy expected to join UCLA as associate head coach, offensive coordinator, AP sources say By JOE REEDY and ROB MAADDI AP Sports Writers The Associated Press LOS ANGELES

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eric Bieniemy is on the verge of returning home for his next job.

    The former Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Commanders offensive coordinator is expected to become UCLA's associate head coach and offensive coordinator, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Saturday.

    The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because details of the contract are still being worked out.

    Bieniemy is the first significant hire for new UCLA coach DeShaun Foster, who was hired on Feb. 12 after Chip Kelly left Westwood to become Ohio State's offensive coordinator.

    Bieniemy, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Kansas City Chiefs, spent the past season in Washington. He wasn’t retained by new Commanders coach Dan Quinn, who replaced Ron Rivera.

    Foster does not have head coaching or coordinator experience, so the hiring of Bieniemy gives the Bruins an experienced voice as they enter the Big Ten in 2024 and try to retain or add players via the transfer portal.

    Despite his success in Kansas City, Bieniemy hasn’t been able to land a heading coach job even though he has interviewed with more than half of the NFL’s teams.

    Bieniemy only received offers to be a running backs coach and pass game coordinator for 2024 so he chose to return to UCLA, where he spent three seasons as an assistant in various roles from 2003-05.

    Bieniemy spent 10 seasons with the Chiefs working under Andy Reid and played a major role in helping Patrick Mahomes develop into one of the NFL’s best players. Mahomes just led the Chiefs to their third Super Bowl title in five years and earned MVP honors for the third time.

    Reid brought Bieniemy in to speak to the offense before the Chiefs beat Baltimore in the AFC championship game.

    “It’s always great to have EB in the building,” Mahomes said. “Just being there, the energy that he brings, the mentality that he brings, you can feel because he has that intensity, but he loves it. He loves being there, he loves being a part of the team and being a part of that culture. Just having him back in the building was really cool; listening to him talk, his energy. I think guys had a little bit of chill bumps, like, ‘Hey, EB’s back here.’ Obviously, he didn’t get that head coaching opportunity, but I’m excited for him to continue to coach football and to continue to make his impact on the game.”

    Bieniemy went to Washington to escape Reid’s shadow and have full control of play-calling duties. He had mixed results for a 4-13 team that lacked talent overall. The Commanders finished with the league’s 24th-ranked offense behind quarterback Sam Howell.

    “His coaching future is great. I’m obviously a big fan of his and I know the things that he can do,” Reid said about Bieniemy before the Super Bowl.

    Bieniemy attended high school in Southern California at Bishop Amat in La Puente, which is 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

    It is Bieniemy’s first college job since 2012, when he was the offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Colorado

    Bieniemy’s second college coaching job was at UCLA. He coached running backs for three seasons and also was the Bruins’ recruiting coordinator in 2005.

    Foster, a Bruins assistant for the past seven years, left last month to become the Las Vegas Raiders’ running backs coach but returned to his alma mater after Kelly’s departure.

    Kelly had a 35-34 record with the Bruins, but the program was showing signs of stagnating ahead of its move to the Big Ten.

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    Maaddi reported from Tampa, Florida.

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    AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

    Steelers cut veteran center Mason Cole to create nearly $5 million in salary-cap space
    2/22/24

    Steelers cut veteran center Mason Cole to create nearly $5 million in salary-cap space The Associated Press PITTSBURGH

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburg Steelers released veteran center Mason Cole on Friday, creating nearly $5 million in salary cap space.

    Cole had one year left on the three-year, $15.75 million deal he signed in spring of 2022. He had issues snapping in shotgun formation and clearly would have cost more than the Steelers were willing to pay him in 2024. Now they will head into free agency and the NFL draft looking for a starter at the position.

    Cole started all 34 regular-season games for Pittsburgh over the last two seasons, as well as the team's wild-card game in 2023. He spent three years in Arizona after the Cardinals drafted him in the third round in 2018 and spent one years in Minnesota.

    He was scheduled to count $6.27 million against the cap. By cutting him now, the Steelers will save $4.75 million.

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    AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

    Dolphins release veteran defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah
    2/22/24

    Dolphins release veteran defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah The Associated Press MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.

    MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins announced Friday that they released defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah in a move that will clear up $13.7 million in cap space.

    Ogbah, who signed with the Dolphins in 2020, was two seasons into a four-year extension worth $65 million. He spent four seasons with the Dolphins, recording 24 sacks, one interception, 19 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 27 starts.

    He led the team in sacks in 2021, but his 2022 campaign was cut short because of a season-ending triceps injury.

    Ogbah appeared in 15 games last season with just one start. He had five sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

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    AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

    Bears QB Justin Fields says he wants to stay in Chicago and is tired of the trade talk
    By ANDREW SELIGMAN, AP Sports Writer | 
    2/21/24

    Bears QB Justin Fields says he wants to stay in Chicago and is tired of the trade talk By ANDREW SELIGMAN AP Sports Writer The Associated Press CHICAGO

    CHICAGO (AP) — Bears quarterback Justin Fields said he wants to remain in Chicago and is tired of the trade talk surrounding him.

    Fields made his feelings clear during an episode of the “St. Brown Brothers” podcast that was released on Wednesday. The podcast is hosted by Bears receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and Detroit's Amon-Ra St. Brown.

    “Of course I want to stay,” Fields said. “I can’t see myself playing in another place. But if it was up to me, I would want to stay in Chicago. I love the city. The city’s lit. The fans there are great, and the people. It’s a business. I ain’t got no control over it; whatever happens, happens. I think the biggest thing with all this going on right now, I just want it to be over. Like, just let me know if I’m getting traded, let me know if I’m staying, this and that.”

    The Bears have the No. 1 pick in the draft and have to decide if they'll take a quarterback such as Caleb Williams or Drake Maye or stick with Fields.

    Chicago could get a massive haul in return by dealing the top pick. But then again, it's not often the historically quarterback-challenged Bears have a chance to draft a prospect such as Williams. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, he threw for 72 touchdowns and 10 interceptions the past two seasons at USC after a year at Oklahoma.

    Fields, drafted 11th overall in 2021 by the Bears under former general manager Ryan Pace, struggled as a rookie with former coach Matt Nagy. He has not developed as a passer the way the team hoped the past two years under coach Matt Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles.

    During the podcast, Fields also cleared the air about why he recently unfollowed the Bears and the NFL on Instagram. He said he did that simply to get a break from the team and the league and wasn't sending a message.

    “It’s something that I don’t even want to see on my timeline," Fields said. "I'm about to go on vacation. I don’t want to see no football. ‘Keep, Fields, we want Fields, should they draft Caleb.' I’m tired of hearing the talk. I just want it to be over.”

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    AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

    New Bears coordinators Shane Waldron and Eric Washington look to improve 7-10 team
    By GENE CHAMBERLAIN, Associated Press | 
    2/21/24

    New Bears coordinators Shane Waldron and Eric Washington look to improve 7-10 team By GENE CHAMBERLAIN Associated Press The Associated Press LAKE FOREST, Ill.

    LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The question about the Chicago Bears quarterback situation for the 2024 season hasn’t been decided.

    New Bears offensive coordinator Shane Waldron is certain he’ll be able to make it work whether with quarterback Justin Fields or the first pick in the draft.

    “Yeah, I totally believe that,” Waldron said. “I think in the past experiences, like I said, with different quarterbacks, different experience levels, whether I was in the coordinator role or in a role as a position coach, I felt that way.”

    Waldron, the former Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator, and new Bears defensive coordinator Eric Washington met Thursday with Chicago reporters for the first time since their hirings last month.

    Waldron is tasked with getting more from an offense that was mired in the bottom half of the league. While Washington won’t call defensive plays as he assists head coach Matt Eberflus in maintaining the progress of an improving group.

    Although neither Waldron nor anyone with the Bears are revealing their plans at quarterback, he did say his only contact with Fields has been an exchange of messages.

    Eberflus feels certain Waldron can meet one key requirement after a 7-10 season when the Bears were 20th on offense and 27th in passing.

    “You’ve gotta be able to adapt during the course of the season,” Eberflus said. “You’re going to have injuries at times. You’re going to have different skill sets in there. In-game adaptability — you’ve gotta have in-game tactics.

    “That’s an important part during the process of hiring the coordinators, and obviously being a leader.”

    Waldron helped quarterback Geno Smith improve his career in Seattle to have a passer rating of 97.3 over four seasons. He had never been above 87.9 for his first six NFL seasons.

    The offense he has brought from Seattle, after learning it under Sean McVay with the Rams, is a key part of the success he had with Smith.

    “I felt different quarterbacks have been able to step foot into the system, be able to learn it quickly and that starts with us being able to teach it in a good and efficient manner where they understand it and then be able to go,” Waldron said.

    Now he relishes the opportunity to work with Fields or a potentially newly drafted quarterback in it.

    “Yeah, I think when you look at it from either lens right now obviously it’s a unique spot in the draft to have the first overall pick, (and) the ninth overall pick, just from an organization in general, you know, it’s not going to happen too often,” Waldron said. “And again, every year is so individually based. This is that year.

    “And then, also the core, the group of players that is already in place on offense, including the quarterback that played at a high level (last year) and that’s having displayed the ability to win football games and make plays. So I think the combination of those two things is really intriguing.”

    Whichever player is at quarterback, Waldron thinks his own experience calling plays for Pete Carroll can meet Eberflus’ expectations for adaptability.

    “You know, the more reps you accumulate, the more situations that are put in front of you, the more and more natural it becomes to react with a positive decision in those scenarios right there,” Waldron said.

    For Washington, it’s a return to a familiar place. He started his NFL coaching career in 2008 as a Bears defensive assistant under Lovie Smith.

    After being a defensive coordinator in Carolina and defensive line coach in Buffalo, he succeeds Alan Williams. He resigned in Week 3 of the 2023 season and Eberflus called defensive plays the rest of the way as that group improved to 12th in the league.

    It didn’t hurt when the Bears traded for edge rusher Montez Sweat, whose arrival triggered the resurgence. Washington was working with players such as Adewale Ogunleye, Alex Brown and Tommie Harris when he was previously with the Bears.

    “We’d like to be, we’re going to be, a team that generates pressure with our front four,” Washington said. “We’re going to build the best pass rush in football. That happens to be, fortunately, an area that I’ve had tremendous success with and we have the personnel to get that done.”

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    AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

    Lions re-sign kicker Michael Badgley to one-year contract
    2/21/24

    Lions re-sign kicker Michael Badgley to one-year contract The Associated Press ALLEN PARK, Mich.

    ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have re-signed kicker Michael Badgley to a one-year contract.

    Detroit made the move Thursday, bringing back the kicker who closed the regular season with the team and played in all three playoff games. Badgley also kicked for the Lions in 2022.

    He made all four of his field-goal attempts in four games during the regular season and tied a playoff team record with a 54-yard field goal against the Los Angeles Rams, helping the Lions win their first playoff game in more than three decades.

    Badgley has made 98 of 119 field goals with the Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Chicago and the Lions since he made his NFL debut in 2018 with the Chargers.

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    AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

    Lions retool defensive coaching staff, hiring Deshea Townsend, Terrell Williams and Jim O’Neil
    2/20/24

    Lions retool defensive coaching staff, hiring Deshea Townsend, Terrell Williams and Jim O’Neil The Associated Press ALLEN PARK, Mich.

    ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have reshaped their staff on defense by hiring Deshea Townsend to coach defensive backs, Terrell Williams to lead the line and Jim O’Neil as an assistant.

    The Lions made the moves Wednesday, a day after releasing veteran safety Tracy Walker .

    Detroit drafted Walker in the third round six years ago and cut him with one season left on his $25 million, three-year contract to save $5.5 million in salary cap space.

    The 29-year-old Walker was inactive during the team’s three-game playoff run. He played in 17 games, including six starts, during the regular season. Walker started in 43 of 79 games and all five of his career interceptions were during the 2021 season when he finished with a career-high 108 tackles.

    Six assistants from Dan Campbell's staff last season will not return: defensive backs coach Brian Duker, who has been hired by Miami, defensive line coach John Scott, cornerbacks coach Dre Bly, defensive quality control coach Wayne Blair, senior offensive assistant Jim Hostler and senior defensive assistant John Fox.

    Townsend will also serve as passing game coordinator on defense, a role he had while coaching cornerbacks the past two years in Jacksonville. The former NFL cornerback has also been an assistant in Chicago, Tennessee, Arizona and with the New York Giants.

    Williams, who also has the title of run game coordinator, has 12 years of experience in the league, including the past six as defensive line coach for the Titans. He also coached defensive lines for the Dolphins and Raiders.

    O'Neil was Northwestern's defensive coordinator in 2021 and 22. He previously worked as an assistant coach in the league for the Raiders, San Francisco, Cleveland, Buffalo and the New York Jets.

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    AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

    Patriots captain Matthew Slater announces retirement after 16 seasons, 3 Super Bowl titles
    By KYLE HIGHTOWER, AP Sports Writer | 
    2/19/24

    Patriots captain Matthew Slater announces retirement after 16 seasons, 3 Super Bowl titles By KYLE HIGHTOWER AP Sports Writer The Associated Press FOXBOROUGH, Mass.

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — For more than a decade, Matthew Slater was universally celebrated as being the emotional centerpiece of the New England Patriots’ locker room, building a resume as one of the league’s most-decorated special teams players.

    After 16 NFL seasons, he says it’s time to call it a career.

    Slater announced his retirement on Tuesday in a letter posted on the team’s website and social media accounts, saying he had “given all that I possibly can to respect and honor the game.”

    “Though it is time for my relationship with the game to evolve, the love I have for it will last a lifetime,” Slater wrote in the letter. “I came here as a young man with hopes and dreams. In 2024, I can retire knowing this experience has exceeded any hope or dream I ever had.”

    A fifth-round draft pick out of UCLA by New England in 2008 and son of Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, he was unapologetically open about his Christian faith while growing into the embodiment of Bill Belichick’s “Patriot Way,” team-first culture.

    Along the way Slater was voted as the special teams captain 13 times while winning three Super Bowl rings, earning 10 Pro Bowl selections and two All-Pro honors.

    From 2018 to 2022 he didn’t miss a game. His total of 264 games with the Patriots are second in team history behind only Tom Brady’s 326.

    “What he brings to the team off the field — leadership, work ethic, guidance, motivation ... is very unique and extraordinary, the very top,” Belichick said in December when asked about Slater’s impact on the Patriots.

    Team owner Robert Kraft said he expects Slater’s career to one day earn him a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame alongside his father.

    “Matthew Slater wasn’t just a special teams player for the Patriots. He was a special team player who helped us win three Super Bowls and made a positive impact on the many lives he touched, both on and off the field.” Kraft said in a statement.

    Following the announcement, well wishes poured in across social media from Slater’s Patriots teammates, including Brady, who called him “one of a kind.”

    Though “Slate” often referred to Bible verses to describe different situations the Patriots confronted, he was a fierce competitor and served as the team’s unofficial spokesman.

    Slater said his approach to the sport developed when he was a kid, visiting his grandparents in Meridian, Mississippi, and observing his father’s work ethic as he prepared for the Los Angeles Rams’ training camp.

    Under the smoldering Mississippi sun, he recalled tagging along with his dad to the local high school field. There he’d sit in the shade “asking for snow cones” while Jackie went through drills.

    “I remember those days more clearly than I remember his games,” Slater wrote. “They weren’t glamorous. There was no crowd around to cheer him on. There were no lights flashing. There were no critics critiquing. Just a man, my hero, dedicating himself to the game he loved so much.”

    Slater called the experience “transformative.”

    “I soon began to develop those same feelings for the game that had been so good to our family,” Slater wrote.

    Though New England’s 4-13 finish this past season proved to be the worst of Slater’s career, it didn’t stop his teammates from celebrating him.

    Prior to their season finale last month, Patriots players surprised Slater by wearing pregame sweatshirts with Slater’s name and number.

    After the game, a visibly emotional Slater called it one of the most special moments of his career.

    “It meant a lot,” Slater said. “I was blown away by it.”

    ___

    AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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