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  • Kaepernick to make final donation of $1M charity pledge
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Despite failing to find an NFL team to sign him since last playing in 2016, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick says he will make good on a promise to give $1 million to charitable organizations in oppressed areas.

    • Since making his "Million Dollar Pledge" in Sept. 2016, Kaepernick has given money to 31 separate charities. On his Instagram page Tuesday, the former QB revealed he has decided on the recipient of his final gift to complete his plan.

      (SOCIAL)

      I'm proud to say that as part of my Million Dollar Pledge, I've donated $900,000 to 31 organizations fighting toward social justice. Its been a privilege to be able to do my part in helping organizations like Mother's Against Police Brutality to provide comfort and support for families when law enforcement kills a community member, Helping Oppressed Mothers Endure to provide furniture to single mothers and Meals on Wheels who feed those less fortunate - just to highlight a few. Hearing about how each organization utilized the donations reaffirms that people doing good work need more support. As we welcome 2018, we also see that our work is not done. Tomorrow, I'll be announcing the final $100,000 to complete my Million Dollar Pledge. I'm excited to share this last round of donations with all of you. You can see all 31 donations I've made so far and what they used the money for on http://www.kaepernick7.com #MillionDollarPledge #10for10

      A post shared by colin kaepernick (@kaepernick7) on Jan 16, 2018 at 1:07pm PST

      (SOCIAL)

      In the post, Kaepernick wrote:

      "I'm proud to say that as part of my Million Dollar Pledge, I've donated $900,000 to 31 organizations fighting toward social justice. Its been a privilege to be able to do my part in helping organizations like Mother's Against Police Brutality to provide comfort and support for families when law enforcement kills a community member, Helping Oppressed Mothers Endure to provide furniture to single mothers and Meals on Wheels who feed those less fortunate - just to highlight a few. Hearing about how each organization utilized the donations reaffirms that people doing good work need more support.

      As we welcome 2018, we also see that our work is not done.

      Tomorrow, I'll be announcing the final $100,000 to complete my Million Dollar Pledge. I'm excited to share this last round of donations with all of you. You can see all 31 donations I've made so far and what they used the money for on http://www.kaepernick7.com#MillionDollarPledge #10for10"

      The former NFL star has become a controversial figure since starting his silent protests during his final season with the 49ers when he began his ritual of kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games. He has been called out by several political and veteran groups as well as President Trump, and remains unemployed after the 49ers released him following the 2016 season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Seahawks hire new offensive, defensive coordinators
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    The coaching staff shakeup in Seattle continued Tuesday as the Seahawks announced the hiring of three new assistants, including both offensive and defensive coordinators.

    • Ken Norton Jr., the team's linebackers coach from 2010-14, rejoins to work under head coach Pete Carroll after serving the past three seasons as defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders. Brian Schottenheimer will lead the Seattle offense coming off a two-year stint as the Indianapolis Colts' quarterbacks coach.

      The team also hired Mike Solari to coach the offensive line, replacing Tom Cable, who was fired a week ago along with then-defensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

      In announcing the moves, the team also fired defensive coordinator Kris Richard, who was promoted by Seattle in 2015 from defensive backs coach over Norton. Richard reportedly has interviewed with the Indianapolis Colts amid reports that Carroll was looking to make several changes on his staff after the Seahawks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

      Norton, a three-time Super Bowl champion during his 13-year playing career with Dallas and San Francisco, accepted a new job with the 49ers a week ago as the team's linebackers coach. However, Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan said in a statement Monday that the 51-year-old Norton Jr. was being released from his contract after the Seahawks offered the more prominent position.

      Norton began his coaching career under Carroll at USC in 2004, where the former UCLA star linebacker worked for six seasons until joining Carroll in Seattle in 2010. After being passed over for Richard for the Seahawks' defensive coordinator job in 2015, Norton ran the Raiders' defense until being fired 10 games into the 2017 season.

      Schottenheimer, 44, has coached in the NFL for 18 seasons -- including nine as offensive coordinator (2006-11 with New York Jets, 2012-14 with St. Louis Rams). He brings a run-heavy reputation to Seattle, something Carroll is rumored to be looking to get back to after his offense was carried almost exclusively by quarterback Russell Wilson the past two seasons. The Seahawks ranked in the league's bottom 10 in rushing offense each of the past two seasons, a far cry from Seattle's top-five rushing ranking from 2012-15.

      Solari, 63, joins his sixth NFL organization as an assistant coach -- including a two-year stint as the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive coordinator in 2006-07. He most recently worked as the offensive line coach for the New York Giants the past two seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: Brees hopeful he can remain with Saints
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Drew Brees is ready to being his 13th year with the New Orleans Saints.

    • All that stands between the 39-year-old quarterback and the 2018 season with the Saints is a new contract. However, Brees sounds entirely optimistic about his future being in New Orleans even as the final days of his existing five-year, $100 million contract melt away with the Saints watching the remainder of the playoffs.

      "I'm not in the mood to make anything secretive," Brees said Tuesday when asked if he is prepared to be chased down for answers about where he will be next season. "It's the same way I felt two days ago. It's the same way I felt 12 years ago. That is that I'll be here as long as they'll have me, hopefully."

      Because of a clause in his contract, the Saints cannot use the franchise tag to retain Brees, so keeping him certainly means a multiyear agreement. Brees said he will play well into his 40s, and he turned 39 on Monday, the day after the Saints were eliminated from the postseason on a last-second touchdown by Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

      --Don't pencil Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in for three more seasons just yet.

      A report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday said Roethlisberger told his teammates he would like to play at least three more seasons. When asked about that report during his weekly radio show Tuesday morning, the 35-year-old said he is looking at just one year at a time.

      Key to Roethlisberger's decision-making process is continuity on the Steelers' staff. The signal-caller already cited the return of his entire starting offensive line as a reason he would be back to play in 2018. Now, the offensive coordinator job is in focus, as Todd Haley's contract is up.

      --Leonard Fournette and the Jacksonville Jaguars dodged a major scare when the rookie running back was involved in a minor car accident.

      Fournette, who had three touchdowns last week at Pittsburgh to carry the Jaguars into the AFC Championship Game, had his car rear-ended in the Tuesday collision but suffered no injuries.

      Sgt. Dylan Bryan of the Florida Highway Patrol described the three-car collision as a "chain-reaction" accident on Interstate 295 near Jacksonville's Dames Point Bridge, USA Today Sports reported. Fournette's car was struck from behind by another vehicle, which was pushed forward after it had been rear-ended.

      --Those wondering if Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril might call it a career as head coach Pete Carroll suggested got their answer.

      Avril, 31, said he plans to be in the NFL next season, running counter to Carroll's statement that Avril and safety Kam Chancellor likely sustained career-ending neck injuries last season. Avril has spent the past five seasons with the Seahawks and has 74 career sacks.

      "I mean, it's something I love to do. It's what I've been doing forever and, just as a competitor, I want to show that I can come back if it's possible, you know?" Avril said on NFL Network.

      --After the surprising departure of head coach Mike Mularkey on Monday, the Tennessee Titans got their coaching search well underway, with a few candidates already emerging.

      According to multiple reports, the team will interview Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur for the vacancy, and Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich could also be a candidate. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been connected with the opening in part because of his background with general manager Jon Robinson, but he is expected to take the Indianapolis Colts job.

      Robinson mentioned the importance of "maximizing the skill sets" of the team's players as a major reason for Mularkey's departure. One of those players would be quarterback Marcus Mariota, who took a major step back in his third NFL season after showing promise through two years.

      --Former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo interviewed for the Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator job, according to multiple reports.

      McAdoo was fired by the Giants on Dec. 4, along with general manager Jerry Reese, after the team started 2-10 in his second season and he benched quarterback Eli Manning. He was previously New York's offensive coordinator for two seasons.

      The Browns have not confirmed candidates for the position since head coach Hue Jackson decided to relinquish play-calling responsibilities. However, Jackson reportedly previously met with Houston Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan. Mularkey also be a candidate, Cleveland.com reported.

      --Retired NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he is interested in being a minority owner of the Carolina Panthers, but he is not involved in the group headed by Charlotte businessman Felix Sabates, a minority owner with Chip Ganassi Racing.

      Earnhardt told The Associated Press that he recently called Marcus Smith, the president and chief operating officer of Speedway Motorsports Inc., about potential involvement in purchasing the Panthers.

      Sabates told the Charlotte Observer that two NASCAR drivers were involved with his group and that he had been in contact with Smith about joining his group planning to make a bid. That immediately started people thinking that Earnhardt, a native of nearby Kannapolis, might already be involved, but Earnhardt clarified that he isn't one of two drivers involved with Sabates.

      --When the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, paving the way for the Buffalo Bills to reach the playoffs, thankful Bills fans showed their appreciation by donating to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's charitable foundation.

      Now, Bengals fans are following suit by rewarding Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles for defeating their division rival in the playoffs. According to the Blake Bortles Foundation, more than 100 fans donated close to $5,000 since the Jaguars beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42 in the AFC divisional round on Sunday.

      "Fans are at the core of the football experience and it's truly exciting and rewarding when they band together, regardless of the team they cheer for, to make a positive impact in the lives of others," Bortles said in a statement. "I greatly appreciate the support displayed by Bengals fans and they should know their support will make a difference."

      --Field Level Media

  • Pay it forward: Bengals fans donate to Jags QB Bortles' charity
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    When the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, paving the way for the Buffalo Bills to reach the playoffs, thankful Bills fans showed their appreciation by donating to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's charitable foundation.

    • Now, Bengals fans are following suit by rewarding Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles for defeating their division rival in the playoffs.

      According to the Blake Bortles Foundation, more than 100 fans have donated close to $5,000 since the Jaguars beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42 in the AFC divisional round on Sunday.

      "Fans are at the core of the football experience and it's truly exciting and rewarding when they band together, regardless of the team they cheer for, to make a positive impact in the lives of others," Bortles said in a statement. "I greatly appreciate the support displayed by Bengals fans and they should know their support will make a difference."

      The Blake Bortles Foundation attributed the wave of support to Cincinnati radio host Mo Egger of ESPN1530, who urged Bengals fans on air to pay it forward as a way to stick it to Steelers fans. Bills fans ended up donating more than $300,000 to Dalton's foundation, The Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation, after Week 17.

      Bortles threw for 214 yards and had a touchdown in the Jaguars' playoff win over the Steelers. His touchdown pass to fullback Tommy Bohanon with 4:19 remaining put Jacksonville up 42-28 at the time.

      The Blake Bortles Foundation supports children with intellectual and developmental challenges as they pursue independent, active lives and provides assistance to first responders.

      --Field Level Media

  • Earnhardt not part of group seeking to buy Panthers
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Retired NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he is interested in being a minority owner of the Carolina Panthers, but he is not involved in the group headed by Charlotte businessman Felix Sabates, a minority owner with Chip Ganassi Racing.

    • Earnhardt told The Associated Press that he recently called Marcus Smith, the president and chief operating officer of Speedway Motorsports Inc., about potential involvement in purchasing the Panthers.

      Sabates told The Charlotte Observer that two NASCAR drivers were involved with his group and that he'd been in contact with Smith about joining his group planning to make a bid.

      That immediately started people thinking that Earnhardt, a native of nearby Kannapolis, might already be involved.

      "(Felix) did not ask me to be involved," Earnhardt said. "I did call Marcus and I said, 'Hey, Marcus, if you guys are in the middle of it and you think it's a good business deal, I definitely have some interest.' But I am not one of the guys that Felix is talking about."

      Forbes recently valued the Panthers at $2.3 billion and estimates Earnhardt's net worth is about $300 million.

      "I wouldn't have the kind of money where I would move the needle too much, but it would be something to have a lot of pride in, and a good Charlotte NFL team is good for the city of Charlotte," Earnhardt said. "I wish them success because of what it does for our community, not only from a pride standpoint but (from) an economical standpoint."

      Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced last month that he would put the team up for sale after the season. The NFL has said it would like the team to remain in Charlotte.

      -- Field Level Media

  • Steelers QB Roethlisberger: 'Playing it one year at a time'
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Don't pencil Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in for three more seasons just yet.

    • A report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday said Roethlisberger has told his teammates he'd like to play at least three more seasons. When asked about that report during his weekly radio show Tuesday morning, the 35-year-old scaled back from such a timeline.

      "I'm just playing it one year at a time. I'm excited to come back next year," said Roethlisberger. "I'm not going to look past one year. I'm going to look forward to next year and give it everything I have."

      Key to Roethlisberger's decision-making process is continuity on the Steelers' staff. The signal-caller already cited the return of his entire starting offensive line as a reason he'll be back to play in 2018. Now, the offensive coordinator job is in focus, as Todd Haley's contract is up.

      Head coach Mike Tomlin was vague when discussing the future of Haley and the rest of his staff when speaking with reporters Tuesday.

      "Some conversations need to be had. Some contracts are up, some contracts aren't," Tomlin said. "I'm not ready to discuss that at this point. Part of that, gaining that understanding is having those conversations. You'll hear about it as they unfold, I'm sure, if there's anything to be heard. But I'm not there yet."

      Haley has been Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator since joining the team in February 2012. Multiple reports indicate the his relationship with Roethlisberger has been fractured in recent years, but the quarterback wouldn't admit to that being the case when asked about it.

      "You might butt heads at times, it doesn't mean that you have any personal problems," Roethlisberger said.

      Roethlisberger's contract with Pittsburgh runs through the 2019 season, and he is slated to carry a cap hit of $23.2 million each of the next two seasons. Roethlisberger has played all 14 of his NFL seasons with the Steelers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Jaguars RB Fournette uninjured in car accident
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Leonard Fournette and the Jacksonville Jaguars dodged a major scare when the rookie running back was involved in a minor car accident on Tuesday.

    • Fournette, who had three touchdowns last week at Pittsburgh to carry the Jaguars into the AFC Championship game, was rear-ended in the collision but suffered no injuries.

      "Leonard is OK and was able to drive home," the Jaguars said in a statement. "Appreciate everyone that has reached out to check on him."

      Sgt. Dylan Bryan of the Florida Highway Patrol described the three-car collision as a "chain-reaction" accident on Interstate 295 near Jacksonville's Dames Point Bridge, USA Today Sports reported.

      Fournette's car was struck from behind by another vehicle, which was pushed forward after it had been rear-ended.

      "Nobody was injured," FHP said Tuesday. "The scene is cleared."

      --Field Level Media

  • Brees reaffirms commitment to Saints
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Drew Brees is ready to being his 13th year with the New Orleans Saints.

    • All that stands between the 39-year-old quarterback and the 2018 season with the Saints is a new contract.

      But Brees sounds entirely optimistic about his future being in New Orleans as his the final days of his existing five-year, $100 million contract melt away with the Saints watching the remainder of the playoffs.

      "I'm not in the mood to make anything secretive," Brees said Tuesday when asked if he's prepared to be chased down for answers about where he'll be next season. "It's the same way I felt two days ago. It's the same way I felt 12 years ago. That is that I'll be here as long as they'll have me, hopefully."

      Because of a clause in his contract, the Saints cannot use the franchise tag to retain Brees. Keeping him certainly means a multi-year agreement. Brees said he will play well into his 40s. He turned 39 on Monday, the day after the Saints were eliminated from the postseason on a last-second touchdown by Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

      The door opens to free agency on March 16, when the other 31 NFL teams could approach Brees with their own contract offers.

      "We're just two days removed, so I really haven't given it a ton of thought -- other than, I know where my mindset's been the whole time, and that's that I'll be here."

      Brees' last one-year extension was worth $24.25 million.

      The Saints won the NFC South and should bring back the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball.

      "I feel like we have a great window of opportunity. I've been a part of talented teams in the past throughout my career, though, that have not lived up to expectations. I've also been a part of teams that were just gutsy and gritty, and surpassed expectations," Brees said. "So the bottom line is that success is dependent upon your willingness to work and the way that guys care about each other and the sense of urgency. So while I think we do have a talented team, I know that each year you have to go out and prove it."

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Browns interviewing fired Giants coach McAdoo
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo interviewed to be Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator on Tuesday according to multiple reports.

    • McAdoo was fired by the Giants on Dec. 4 along with General Manager Jerry Reese after the team started 2-10 in his second season and benched quarterback Eli Manning. He was previously New York's offensive coordinator for two seasons.

      The Browns have not confirmed candidates for the position since head coach Hue Jackson decided to relinquish play-calling responsibilities. However, Jackson reportedly previously met with Houston Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan. Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey, who was fired Monday, could also be a candidate, Cleveland.com reported.

      McAdoo spent seven years in Green Bay with Browns General Manager John Dorsey from 2006 through 2012. He served as tight ends coach there from 2006-11 and quarterbacks coach in 2012 and 2013.

      The Browns hired Giants assistant Adam Henry last week to coach wide receivers. Henry was on Jackson's staff with the Raiders in 2011.

      -- Field Level Media

  • Reports: Titans to interview Vrabel, Wilks, LaFleur
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    After the surprising departure of head coach Mike Mularkey on Monday, the Tennessee Titans' coaching search is well underway, with a few candidates already emerging.

    • According to multiple reports, the team will interview Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur for the vacancy, and Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich could also be a candidate. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been connected with the opening in part because of his background with general manager Jon Robinson, but he is expected to take the Indianapolis Colts job.

      The pool of options could certainly grow.

      "We don't have a set number on how many (candidates) we would like to talk to," Robinson, who is leading the search, told reporters. "We'll talk to as many as it takes to get the right guy to lead this team moving forward. There's not a set number on candidates. We want the right man for the job."

      Robinson mentioned the importance of "maximizing the skill sets" of the team's players as a major reason for Mularkey's departure. One of those players would be quarterback Marcus Mariota, who took a major step back in his third NFL season after showing promise through two years. The QB's development could be a key factor in deciding who will ultimately replace Mularkey.

      The 38-year-old LaFleur has just one year of coordinator experience, but he and Sean McVay helped Jared Goff make a remarkable turnaround this season after a disastrous rookie campaign. A year earlier, LaFleur served as the Atlanta Falcons' quarterbacks coach during Matt Ryan's MVP season, as the Falcons' offense was one of the most productive in NFL history.

      Reich, 56, has spent the last two years developing Carson Wentz, who drew some MVP buzz of his own until suffering a season-ending injury in Week 14 this season. He was with the then-San Diego Chargers from 2013 to 2015, coaching QBs for a season before a promotion to offensive coordinator.

      The Texans finished dead last in points allowed in 2017, Vrabel's first year as a coordinator, but that hasn't squashed interest in the 42-year-old. He interviewed for the Lions' and Colts' vacancies and is reportedly a finalist in Indianapolis as a second choice after McDaniels.

      Wilks, 48, also has one year of coordinator experience and has drawn extensive interest, interviewing with the Giants and Arizona Cardinals while turning down interviews with the Lions and Colts. He is reportedly the Cardinals' second choice behind Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who is expected to take the Giants' job. Interviewing Wilks would satisfy the Rooney Rule in the Titans' search.

      Tennessee's next head coach will be the team's fourth since firing Jeff Fisher in January of 2011 after he spent 16 years with the franchise.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mike Tomlin, Sean Payton to coach Pro Bowl
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    The staffs of the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints will coach in the 2018 Pro Bowl, the NFL announced Monday.

    • The game will kick off at 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 28 in Orlando, with light practices and skills challenges taking place in the week leading up to the game.

      Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will guide the AFC with help from "Legends" captains LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor, who will lead the offense and defense respectively. Saints head coach Sean Payton will have Warrick Dunn (offense) and Derrick Brooks (defense) helping him lead the NFC.

      Pro Bowl coaching staffs typically come from the highest-ranked team in each conference to lose in the divisional round of the playoffs, as the Steelers and Saints did on Sunday. Exceptions are made when such a team makes a head-coaching change following its playoff defeat.

      Each team's quarterback was selected to the Pro Bowl in December, with Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees earning their sixth and 11th career nods, respectively. It remains unclear if either will play in the game, though neither was listed on his team's final injury report of the season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Seahawks DE Avril focused on playing in 2018
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    Those wondering if Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril might call it a career as head coach Pete Carroll suggested got their answer on Monday.

    • Avril, 31, said he plans to be in the NFL next season, running counter to Carroll's statement that Avril and safety Kam Chancellor likely suffered career-ending neck injuries last season.

      "I mean, it's something I love to do. It's what I've been doing forever and, just as a competitor, I want to show that I can come back if it's possible, you know?" Avril said on NFL Network. "You do see all the injuries. You see the game from a different perspective when you're on the sideline. And those thoughts do definitely pop into my head of 'should I come back or not?' But again, right now it's all about recovery."

      Avril was injured trying to make a diving tackle in October against the Indianapolis Colts. His head snapped back as he tried to reach for the foot of quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

      Avril, 31, was placed on season-ending injured reserve and Carroll has long stated that the team is in a holding pattern with the 10-year veteran. Avril has spent the past five seasons with the Seahawks and has 74 career sacks. He had one sack through the first four games this season.

      "Cliff and Kam are going to have a hard time playing football again," Carroll told 710 ESPN radio in Seattle last month.

      Avril has one year remaining on the four-year, $28.5 million contract he signed in 2015. He is due $7 million in base salary next season.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: Titans part ways with Mularkey
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    The Tennessee Titans and head coach Mike Mularkey mutually agreed to part ways in a surprise move Monday morning.

    • The news came just 36 hours after the Titans were routed by the New England Patriots 35-14 in a divisional playoff game on Saturday night. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, along with general manager Jon Robinson, couldn't come to an agreement with Mularkey over his future.

      "I want to thank Mike Mularkey for his contributions to our franchise over his tenure with our organization," Adams Strunk said in a statement. "He took over our team during a low moment and together with Jon built a solid foundation for our franchise. I appreciated that Mike devoted himself to this team and the community."

      Mularkey was named head coach of the Titans in Jan. 2016 after he served as interim coach for the final nine games of the 2015 season. The Titans finished 9-7 this season and made the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.

      --Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is expected to be the next head coach of the New York Giants, according to multiple reports.

      The Giants cannot officially hire Shurmur until the Vikings' season -- which was extended by Stefon Diggs' miracle touchdown on Sunday -- is over. However, reports say Shurmur is the Giants' top choice to succeed Ben McAdoo, and that Shurmur will accept the position if offered.

      The 52-year-old Shurmur has been one of the hottest coaching candidates this offseason after he helped Case Keenum to a career season in Minnesota. Shurmur's career record as a head coach to 10-23. He spent 2011 and 2012 at the helm of the Cleveland Browns, going 4-12 and then 5-11 before being fired, and also won a game in 2015 as interim coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

      --His $100 million contract expires at the end of February, but 39-year-old quarterback Drew Brees plans to return to the New Orleans Saints for another run at a Super Bowl in 2018.

      Downtrodden after a staggering defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC divisional playoff Sunday, Brees, who turned 39 on Monday, stated his belief that the Saints are a Super Bowl contender going forward.

      "I'm hoping I'm a part of a few more that I feel that way about and we can make a run at it," Brees said. "Unfortunately, sometimes experience is a tough teacher, and things happen, and you can go one of two ways with it. Does it put you in the tank? Does it pull you apart? Or does it unite you and make you stronger and mold you and strengthen you? That's the outlook I'm taking, and I think that's the outlook that our entire team is taking."

      --Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has told teammates he wants to play "at least" three more NFL seasons, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.

      Roethlisberger, 35, said after Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that he intends to return next season. He publicly flirted with the idea of retirement last offseason in the aftermath of an AFC Championship game defeat to the New England Patriots.

      However, according to the Post-Gazette, those comments may have been prompted by "biting words" from offensive coordinator Todd Haley, whose future with the team is now cloudy as his relationship with Roethlisberger has recently shown more cracks. The report notes that Roethlisberger and Haley rarely spoke or discussed strategy on the sideline during games, with issues coming to a head when the coaching staff didn't have a play ready in the closing seconds of the team's controversial Week 15 loss to the Patriots.

      --Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall underwent minor hand surgery, according to multiple reports.

      The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which first reported news of the surgery, said it was to repair a small bone that had been bothering Randall the entire 2017 season.

      Randall, 25, is expected to need six to eight weeks of recovery time, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Randall, the Packers' first-round pick (30th overall) in 2015, bounced back from an early-season benching to lead the team with four interceptions despite missing the final two games because of a knee injury.

      --The Indianapolis Colts are expected to hire New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as the team's next head coach.

      The NFL Network and CBS reported the Colts' pending hiring of McDaniels on Monday. If true, the move will not be made official until the Patriots' season is over. New England plays host to Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, and a win puts them in the Super Bowl on Feb. 4.

      McDaniels, 41, has been with New England for all but three seasons since 2001. He has been the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach since 2012, the same positions he held in New England from 2006-08. He also went 11-17 as head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2009-10, and was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the Rams in 2011, when they were in St. Louis.

      --New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia declined to address reports that he will become the next head coach of the Detroit Lions, instead focusing on the Jacksonville Jaguars and Sunday's AFC Championship game.

      Asked about the Lions job, Patricia was non-committal and reiterated on Monday that he went through the process of interviewing for head-coaching job openings.

      For now, the Lions are forbidden from finalizing a contract with Patricia according to the NFL's tampering rules. Patricia, 43, would replace Jim Caldwell, who was fired Jan. 1.

      --A week after the San Francisco 49ers announced Ken Norton Jr. as assistant head coach and inside linebackers coach, the Seattle Seahawks have brought Norton back to Seattle as their defensive coordinator, according to a Seattle Channel 5 report.

      Per the report, Norton signed a three-year deal to replace coordinator Kris Richard, who remains under contract. It's unclear what the move means for Richard's status, but reports last week said he was encouraged to find work elsewhere for professional growth.

      Norton coached linebackers in Seattle from 2010 to 2014 before becoming the Oakland Raiders' defensive coordinator in 2015. He was fired from that post Nov. 21 as the defense continued to struggle. Norton also coached linebackers under Carroll at USC from 2004 to 2009.

      --Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with driving under the influence, King County, Washington online records show.

      According to the records, Jeremy Rashaad Lane was arrested at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday and released a little less than four hours later. He posted $1,000 bail and was released under his own recognizance.

      ESPN reported Monday morning that Lane was stopped while traveling eastbound on Interstate 90 near Mercer Island, which is located in Lake Washington, just east of Seattle. Neither the Seahawks nor county authorities have commented publicly on the arrest.

      --Danica Patrick confirmed the rumors that had been swirling for weeks -- she is dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

      The famed auto racer told The Associated Press, "Yes, Aaron and I are dating." The two met at the 2012 ESPYs, Patrick told The AP. She is an avid Bears fan but said, "Now I'm going to cheer for the (Packers)."

      Patrick recently lost her ride with Stewart-Haas Racing and couldn't find another sponsor or owner to give her a deal. She has said she plans to race in both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 this year. As for Rodgers, he suffered a broken collarbone on Oct. 15 and missed the next two months and the Packers missed the playoffs.

      --The staffs of the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints will coach in the 2018 Pro Bowl, the NFL announced.

      The game will kick off at 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 28 in Orlando, with light practices and skills challenges taking place in the week leading up to the game.

      Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will guide the AFC with help from "Legends" captains LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor, who will lead the offense and defense, respectively. Saints head coach Sean Payton will have Warrick Dunn (offense) and Derrick Brooks (defense) helping him lead the NFC.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Big Ben wants to play through 2020; Haley's future cloudy
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has told teammates he wants to play "at least" three more NFL seasons, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.

    • Roethlisberger, 35, said after Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that he intends to return next season.

      He publicly flirted with the idea of retirement last offseason in the aftermath of an AFC Championship Game defeat to the New England Patriots.

      However, according to the Post-Gazette, those comments may have been prompted by "biting words" from offensive coordinator Todd Haley, whose future with the team is now cloudy as his relationship with Roethlisberger has recently shown more cracks.

      The report notes that Roethlisberger and Haley rarely spoke or discussed strategy on the sideline during games, with issues coming to a head when the coaching staff didn't have a play ready in the closing seconds of the team's controversial Week 15 loss to the Patriots. Quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner was brought from the booth to the sidelines midway through this season at the behest of Roethlisberger, who reportedly wanted a buffer between himself and Haley.

      The 50-year-old coach just finished the final year of his contract, a rarity for Steelers coordinators. Those that do not receive extensions entering the final year of their deals are typically not re-signed, like Bruce Arians after the 2011 season.

      If Haley is not re-signed in Pittsburgh, the Post-Gazette considers Fichtner "a strong candidate" for the position.

      In six seasons under Haley, Roethlisberger has thrown touchdowns more frequently (5.0 percent to 5.3) while being intercepted (3.0 percent to 2.3) and sacked (8.7 percent to 4.9) less frequently than in the first eight years of his career.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Seahawks hire Norton Jr. away from 49ers to be DC
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    A week after the San Francisco 49ers announced Ken Norton Jr. as assistant head coach and inside linebackers coach, the Seattle Seahawks have brought Norton back to Seattle as their defensive coordinator, according to a Seattle Channel 5 report.

    • Per the report, Norton signed a three-year deal to replace coordinator Kris Richard, who remains under contract.

      It's unclear what the move means for Richard's status, but reports last week said he was encouraged to find work elsewhere for professional growth. Richard has spent his entire coaching career under Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, dating back to 2008 at USC. Amid injuries, his defense slipped to 11th in yards allowed and 13th in points this season after finishing in the top five in both categories in 2015 and 2016.

      Norton coached linebackers in Seattle from 2010 to 2014 before becoming the Oakland Raiders' defensive coordinator in 2015. He was fired from that post Nov. 21 as the defense continued to struggle. Norton also coached linebackers under Carroll at USC from 2004 to 2009.

      "Last week, Ken was presented with an opportunity to once again coordinate a defense," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said in a statement. "Because of how we feel about Ken as a coach, we understand and respect his desire to pursue the position."

      The move marks the Seahawks' second change at coordinator this offseason. They hired Brian Schottenheimer on Saturday to replace Darrell Bevell, who had been the team's offensive coordinator for seven seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • Danica Patrick confirms she is dating Packers QB Rodgers
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    Danica Patrick on Monday confirmed the rumors that had been swirling for weeks - she is dating Aaron Rodgers.

    • The famed auto racer told The Associated Press, "Yes, Aaron and I are dating." The two met at the 2012 ESPYs, Patrick told The AP. She is an avid Bears fan but said, "Now I'm going to cheer for the [Packers]."

      Both athletes are coming off a very bumpy 2017.

      Patrick lost her ride with Stewart-Haas Racing and couldn't find another sponsor or owner to give her a deal. She has said she plans to race in both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 this year.

      As for the Green Bay quarterback, he suffered a broken collarbone on Oct. 15 and missed the next two months. He returned to the Packers for their Week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers but threw three interceptions in a 31-24 loss and was shut down for the season.

      Earlier in the year, Rodgers broke up with actress Olivia Munn after a three-year relationship.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Giants expected to hire Vikings OC Shurmur
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is expected to be the next head coach of the New York Giants, according to multiple reports Monday.

    • The Giants cannot officially hire Shurmur until the Vikings' season -- which was extended by Stefon Diggs' miracle touchdown on Sunday -- is over. However, reports say Shurmur is the Giants' top choice to succeed Ben McAdoo, and that Shurmur will accept the position if offered.

      The 52-year-old Shurmur has been one of this offseason's hottest coaching candidates after he helped Case Keenum to a career season in Minnesota. Shurmur interviewed with the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals and the Giants earlier this month, and a report last week named him as the Cardinals' top choice. The Bears have already hired former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy to fill their vacancy, while New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is expected to take the Lions job.

      Shurmur was hired by the Vikings as tight ends coach in 2016 but was promoted to interim offensive coordinator midseason when Norv Turner resigned after a 5-2 start. In Shurmur's first full season running the offense, the unit finished 11th in yards per game (356.9) and 10th in points (23.9) while Keenum posted a 98.3 passer rating, easily the best of his career.

      A report earlier this month suggested Keenum and Shurmur could be a "package deal" this offseason, with the free-agent-to-be Keenum signing with whichever team hires Shurmur as its head coach.

      Before joining Minnesota, Shurmur spent three seasons as Chip Kelly's offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, taking over as interim head coach when Kelly was fired with one game remaining in the 2015 campaign. The Eagles won that game, bringing Shurmur's career record as a head coach to 10-23. He spent 2011 and 2012 at the helm of the Cleveland Browns, going 4-12 and then 5-11 before being fired.

      If the Cardinals miss out on Shurmur, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is believed to be next on their wishlist.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Colts expected to hire Patriots OC McDaniels
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    The Indianapolis Colts are expected to hire New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as the team's next head coach, according to multiple reports.

    • The Patriots are also expected to lose defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who is reportedly in line to fill the Detroit Lions' head coaching vacancy.

      [SOURCE]

      The #Colts have held strong with their pursuit of #Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and that is expected to be his choice when an offer comes, sources tell me and @TomPelissero.

      — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 15, 2018

      [SOURCE]

      The NFL Network and CBS both reported the Colts' pending hiring of McDaniels on Monday.

      If true, the move will not be made official until the Patriots' season is over. New England plays host to Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday. A win puts them in the Super Bowl on Feb. 4.

      Meanwhile, CBS' Jason La Canfora reported Monday that Patricia to the Lions is a "virtual lock."

      McDaniels, 41, has been with New England for all but three seasons since 2001. He has been the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach since 2012, the same positions he held in New England from 2006-08.

      He was the head coach in Denver for two seasons, 2009-10, and the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the Rams in 2011, when they were in St. Louis.

      McDaniels would replace Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis. The Colts fired Pagano after six seasons on Dec. 31. The Colts were 53-43 under Pagano, including 4-12 this season.

      Renowned for his work with Tom Brady, McDaniels would inherit the talented but oft-injured Andrew Luck with the Colts. The 28-year-old signal caller has missed 26 regular-season games the past three seasons, including all of the 2017 season following shoulder surgery.

      McDaniels has reportedly been hesitant to accept the Colts job because of Luck's health status.

      The Colts have the third pick in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft.

      --Field Level Media

  • Seahawks CB Lane arrested on DUI charge
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with driving under the influence, King County, Washington online records show.

    • According to the records, Jeremy Rashaad Lane was arrested at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday and released a little less than four hours later. He posted $1,000 bail and was released under his own recognizance.

      ESPN reported Monday morning that Lane was stopped while traveling eastbound on Interstate 90 near Mercer Island, which is located in Lake Washington, just east of Seattle.

      Neither the Seahawks nor county authorities have commented publicly on the arrest.

      Lane has spent all six of his professional seasons with Seattle, which selected him in the sixth round in 2012. He played in 13 games in 2017, starting three and recording 31 tackles.

      The Seahawks actually traded Lane to Houston just before the Nov. 1 deadline this season, but when the cornerback failed his physical, he was sent back to Seattle. The Seahawks instead sent the Texans a pair of draft picks in exchange for offensive lineman Duane Brown.

      Lane suffered a groin injury against the Colts in Week 4.

      The 27-year-old cornerback is best-remembered for his goal-line interception of Tom Brady in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIX, a play that ended with Lane suffering a broken arm and torn ACL as he was tackled out of bounds.

      --Field Level Media

  • Packers CB Randall undergoes hand surgery
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall underwent minor hand surgery Monday, according to multiple reports.

    • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which first reported news of the surgery, said it was to repair a small bone that had been bothering Randall the entire 2017 season.

      Randall, 25, is expected to need six to eight weeks of recovery time, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

      Randall, the Packers' first-round pick (30th overall) in 2015, bounced back from an early-season benching to lead the team with four interceptions despite missing the final two games because of a knee injury.

      An incident on the sideline during the Week 4 game against the Chicago Bears led Randall being sent to the locker room during the second half after he was benched. He returned to the lineup the next week and had an interceptions in three consecutive games.

      Randall was critical of the defense's coaching, and which drew a strong response from head coach Mike McCarthy, although coordinator Dom Capers was fired after the Packers' 7-9 season ended.

      "You're talking about words of frustration," McCarthy said after the season. "I'll tell you want I told Damarious -- he needs to focus on himself. He's got to clean his own house. That's what I look for him to do in the offseason. He did a lot of really good things.

      "We all understand what happened in the Chicago game, but I thought from the Chicago game on he played at a very high level. He probably played the best football of his career, but then he didn't play the last two games. He needs to go home and self-evaluate and clean his own house. We all need to clean our own house."

      Randall is the second Packers' defensive player to undergo surgery since the season ended. Linebacker Clay Matthews had his knee cleaned out last week, according to ESPN.

      --Field Level Media

  • Brees plans to be back with Saints in 2018
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    His $100 million contract expires at the end of February, but 39-year-old quarterback Drew Brees plans to return to the New Orleans Saints for another run at a Super Bowl in 2018.

    • Downtrodden after a staggering defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC divisional playoff Sunday, Brees stated his belief that the Saints are a Super Bowl contender going forward.

      "I'm hoping I'm a part of a few more that I feel that way about and we can make a run at it," Brees said Sunday. "Unfortunately, sometimes experience is a tough teacher, and things happen, and you can go one of two ways with it. Does it put you in the tank? Does it pull you apart? Or does it unite you and make you stronger and mold you and strengthen you? That's the outlook I'm taking, and I think that's the outlook that our entire team is taking."

      Brees has recorded five 5,000-yard seasons in 12 years with the Saints after starting his career with the then-San Diego Chargers as a second-round pick out of Purdue in 2001.

      Brees turned 39 on Monday. He said previously he could envision playing "well into" his fourth decade of life. He had 23 touchdowns and passed for 4,338 yards in 2017. The TD total was his lowest since 2003 with the Chargers, but Brees also had the benefit of a pair of running backs go for 1,500 yards from scrimmage in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.

      Brees completed 72 percent of his passes, a career-best, and had only eight interceptions with a QB rating of 103.9.

      Coach Sean Payton downplayed any suggestion that Brees' statistical output hinted at a decline.

      "We're not in the business of playing fantasy football," Payton said. "We really aren't. We're in the business of winning. So, if that upsets all the people that have a player on our offense or defense or somewhere in the fantasy games of the world, then that's tough. But our job is to win, and that's probably one of the first criteria that you're graded at as quarterback. And he knows that."

      Brees' expiring deal made him the NFL's highest-paid player at the time it was signed in July 2012. That contract included $40 million guaranteed.

      He's the greatest priority in a free agent class for the Saints that also includes safety Kenny Vaccaro. New Orleans could bring back every starter from the 2017 team.

      "I mean, I'm more toward the end of my career than the beginning, I know that," Brees said. "That's all I divulge (about how long I plan on playing). But the season ends, and this one will sting, but I think you look back at the things we accomplished and some of the memories that were made and the relationships that were built and the way this team came together. It really leaves me excited for the future of Saints football."

      --Field Level Media

  • Titans, Mularkey mutually agree to part ways
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    The Tennessee Titans and head coach Mike Mularkey mutually agreed to part ways in a surprise move Monday morning.

    • The news comes just 36 hours after the Titans were routed by the New England Patriots 35-14 in a divisional playoff game on Saturday night.

      Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, along with general manager Jon Robinson, couldn't come to an agreement with Mularkey over his future.

      Robinson, a former front-office executive with the New England Patriots, will be leading the head-coaching search.

      "I want to thank Mike Mularkey for his contributions to our franchise over his tenure with our organization," Adams Strunk said in a statement. "He took over our team during a low moment and together with Jon built a solid foundation for our franchise. I appreciated that Mike devoted himself to this team and the community.

      "In fact, we did discuss extending his future with our team over the past week, but in those discussions about the direction of the team, it became evident that we saw different paths to achieve greater success.

      "It is certainly unfortunate that we couldn't find enough common ground. I generally believe that continuity is the best path for success, but I also view this as an important moment for our football team as we try to make that next step to sustained success on the field. Jon will begin the search immediately to identify that person."

      Robinson said the decision to part ways was made Monday morning and that "a lot of factors" were involved.

      "I think we've done a lot of good things here over the last two years," Robinson said at a news conference. "I just felt like we needed to go a different direction and maximize the skill sets of the players. I think this boils down to doing what we think is best for the football team moving forward, and taking the next step. At the end of the day, we felt like we needed to go down a different path to move forward."

      Robinson said the Titans have already started the process of identifying candidates.

      "We've started the search this morning, going through names and bios and we're starting to build the list of potential candidates," Robinson said. "We don't have a set number on how many (candidates) we would like to talk to. We'll talk to as many as it takes to get the right guy to lead this team moving forward. There's not a set number on candidates. We want the right man for the job."

      Mularkey was named head coach of the Titans in January 2016. He served as interim coach for the final nine games of the 2015 season.

      Adams Strunk just eight days ago said she wanted to "eliminate any distractions" and that Mularkey "will be our head coach moving forward" after the team rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit for a 22-21 victory over the Chiefs in a wild-card game.

      It was reported after the Titans' loss at New England that Mularkey was talking with the team about a contract extension that would keep him in Nashville beyond the 2018 season. His contract was set to expire following next season.

      The Titans made progress in 2017, finishing 9-7 and making the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.

      Despite the progress, questions about the development of quarterback Marcus Mariota and the team's inconsistent offense were persistent throughout the course of the season.

      Mularkey, 56, went 19-15 (including playoffs) in his two seasons as full-time head coach.

      Mularkey declined to address the status of his extension during his end-of-season news conference Sunday afternoon.

      "Yeah, we're moving forward full speed ahead," Mularkey said Sunday. "Going to give the coaches off this week and get us into the Senior Bowl next week. Got a lot of work to do with two weeks into the offseason already."

      There were reports regarding Mularkey's uncertain job security prior to the win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the regular-season finale to make the playoffs and the Kansas City matchup a week later.

      Expressing anger at the Titans for leaving his status uncertain, Mularkey said, "Ridiculous. ... I don't think it's fair to my family. When it has an effect on my family, it has an effect on me. So it had a big effect on me."

      The next day on Jan. 7, Adams Strunk gave Mularkey a vote of confidence. All of that changed Monday morning.

      --Field Level Media

  • Broncos receiver Henderson arrested on marijuana possession charge
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 15, 2018

    Denver Broncos wide receiver Carlos Henderson was arrested in Louisiana early Sunday afternoon and charged with first offense possession of marijuana, according to the Denver Post, which cited the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office.

    • According to the arrest report, Henderson was a passenger in an SUV that was stopped for going 84 mph in a 60mph stretch in Interstate 20.

      The arresting officer smelled marijuana on approaching the car, but Henderson and the driver denied having smoked or possessing the drug. A search by officers turned up "multiple pieces of suspected raw marijuana on and around" Henderson and a bottle of water that appeared to have been used to extinguish a marijuana cigar, according to the arrest report.

      The report also states that Henderson's tongue was coated in "thick green residue," but that he denied having eaten any before the stop. The police say he did admit to smoking marijuana earlier in the day, just not in the car.

      "We are aware of the issue involving Carlos Henderson and are gathering more information," a statement released by the Broncos Sunday night read.

      The third-round pick out of Louisiana Tech did not see the field as a rookie, having been sidelined for the season after undergoing surgery for a thumb injury.

      He was bonded out of jail shortly after his arrest.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: Roethlisberger returning for 2018 season
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, January 14, 2018

    Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters he plans on playing next season in the aftermath of his team's 45-42 division-round loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

    • Roethlisberger cited the fact that his starting offensive line will return for the 2018 season as a reason why.

      "I don't know about contracts and who is coming back, but I know the guys up front are and that makes it good for me," Roethlisberger said. "So, I look forward to next year with those guys."

      Roethlisberger, 35, flirted with the idea of retirement last offseason before deciding to come back and lead the Steelers to a 13-3 campaign. He completed 37 of 58 passes for 469 yards, a franchise playoff record, and five touchdowns against the Jags on Sunday.

      --Right tackle Jack Conklin has been diagnosed with a torn ACL after injuring his left knee in Saturday's game against the New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey announced Sunday.

      Conklin left the game in the first quarter after his leg was rolled up on during a running play. He walked off the field and then to the Titans' locker room and did not return. Swing tackle Dennis Kelly replaced him in the lineup.

      With surgery expected "in the next two weeks," Conklin's status for training camp is cloudy. Conklin was a first-team All-Pro selection as a rookie after the Titans traded up to take him eighth overall in the 2016 draft, and he has started all 34 games (including playoffs) over his first two seasons.

      --Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn stands behind first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian after the team scored just one touchdown in Saturday's 15-10 divisional playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

      The Falcons failed to score 20 points for the seventh time this season -- all resulting in losses -- as the offense struggled to put points on the board. The Falcons led the league at 33.8 points per game a year ago on their way to the Super Bowl, but the offense finished the 2017 season averaging just 22.1 points per game.

      "I recognize that goes with the job, and so does Sark," Quinn said of the criticism after the game. "Like all things, we assess it all the way through. How can we do things better? There are a lot of things that Sark has brought to our team that we really like. I can take a long time to go through different spots, so it's easy to place blame all onto one person, and that's a shared responsibility when we don't achieve at the level that we would like to."

      --Less than a week after winning the national championship with Alabama, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has joined the Buffalo Bills to fill the same position, the Bills announced.

      Born in Welland, Ontario, Daboll went to high school in the Buffalo suburb of Athol Springs and played football at the University of Rochester. Daboll, 42, spent just one season with the Crimson Tide after four years with the New England Patriots, where he served as an offensive assistant for one season and tight ends coach for three.

      He has four years of offensive coordinator experience in the NFL: two with the Cleveland Browns and one each with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. None of his NFL units ranked better than 17th in total yards or 20th in points scored, but Alabama finished 29th in yards (444 per game) and 15th in points (37.1) among all FBS teams in 2017.

      --Recently fired Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano took out an ad in Sunday's Indianapolis Star thanking fans for their support during his six-year run as the team's head coach.

      "My only regret is not being able to deliver the Lombardi Trophy to this city that deserves to hoist it once again," Pagano wrote. "Through the ups and downs of the last six years, your support for the Indianapolis Colts was unwavering and that's a testament to you -- Colts Nation. It's been an absolute honor and privilege to serve as head coach of the Colts."

      Pagano had a 53-43 record with the Colts and was fired after a 4-12 season in 2017. He led the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons as coach, though he missed 12 games during his first year in 2012 after he was diagnosed with leukemia.

      --Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown was active for Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars despite his injured calf.

      Brown missed the last two games of the regular season due to the injury and missed Friday's practice with an illness before being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. He caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the 45-42 loss.

      Brown left the Steelers' Dec. 17 game against the New England Patriots after taking an ugly hit to his lower left leg, and it turned out to be a partially torn calf. Nonetheless, Brown led the NFL with 1,533 yards receiving and was one of five players with at least 100 receptions.

      --Buffalo Bills wide receiver Zay Jones apparently played with a torn labrum during his rookie season and will undergo surgery to repair the injury this week.

      The Bills traded up to select Jones in the second round (No. 37 overall) of the 2017 draft, and he moved to the top of the depth chart when the team traded Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in August.

      Jones finished a disappointing debut season with 27 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games as he was slowed by a shoulder injury.

      --Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford served as starter Case Keenum's backup against the New Orleans Saints in Sunday's divisional-round playoff game.

      Bradford was activated off injured reserve by the Vikings on Saturday but didn't play Sunday. Teddy Bridgewater was made inactive for the game that the Vikings won 29-24 on Keenum's final-play 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs.

      Bradford (knee) has practiced the past two weeks, but head coach Mike Zimmer said Friday he hadn't made a decision whether the 30-year-old veteran would dress against New Orleans. Bradford last played in Week 5 at Chicago.

      --A man was arrested after allegedly threatening to kill players, fans and himself at Sunday's divisional-round playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field.

      Yuttana Choochongkol, a 30-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, made the threats to Heinz Field and a television station in Pittsburgh, according to KSAT in San Antonio, citing an arrest affidavit. The affidavit said the note that KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh received on Thursday read as follows:

      "This Sunday's playoff game in Pittsburgh is going to be like no other. Why? Because it's going to be my last day on this pathetic planet. So why not take some innocent lives with me? The Steelers game will be packed, and that's when I plan on killing Steelers football players and fans before taking my own pitiful life. After all, what does a person that is going to commit suicide have to lose? Absolutely nothing. So why not take out some million dollar Steelers players before me? Sounds like a good idea. Hahahahahah"

      --Field Level Media

  • Titans' Mularkey: RT Conklin has torn ACL
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, January 14, 2018

    Right tackle Jack Conklin has been diagnosed with a torn ACL after injuring his left knee in Saturday's game in Foxborough, head coach Mike Mularkey announced Sunday.

    • Conklin left the game in the first quarter after his leg was rolled up on during a running play. He walked off the field and then to the Titans' locker room and did not return. Swing tackle Dennis Kelly replaced him in the lineup.

      With surgery expected "in the next two weeks," Conklin's status for training camp is cloudy. Mularkey said the 23-year-old will be a candidate for the PUP list.

      "It's not how you want to go into the offseason," Mularkey said of Conklin. "It's a lot of work. Jack will have no problem doing that -- that's the kind of player he is, the person he is. It is disappointing for him. He had a good year, and to end it that way..."

      Conklin was a first-team All-Pro selection as a rookie after the Titans traded up to take him eighth overall in the 2016 draft. He has started all 34 games (including playoffs) over his first two seasons.

      Meanwhile, rookie tight end Jonnu Smith suffered a torn right MCL when his leg was rolled up on during a Titans kick return in the third quarter. Mularkey expects Smith to be ready when OTAs begin in May.

      A 2017 third-round pick, the 22-year-old caught 18 passes for 157 yards and two scores this season.

      --Field Level Media