Chargers staying in San Diego for 2016, reach agreement with Rams for Inglewood option

The San Diego Chargers have an option and agreement with the Los Angeles Rams to go to Inglewood within the next year, but they’re not done in San Diego.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos announced today that the team will remain in San Diego in 2016 as he tries to obtain a new stadium.
“Today I decided our team will stay in San Diego for the 2016 season and I hope for the long term in a new stadium,” Spanos said. “I have met with Mayor Faulconer and Supervisor Roberts and I look forward to working closely with them and the business community to resolve our stadium dilemma. We have an option and an agreement with the Los Angeles Rams to go to Inglewood in the next year, but my focus is on San Diego.  This has been our home for 55 years, and I want to keep the team here and provide the world-class stadium experience you deserve.
“Everyone on both sides of the table in San Diego must now determine the best next steps and how to deploy the additional resources provided by the NFL. I am committed to looking at this with a fresh perspective and new sense of possibility.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.

Eagles sign Lane Johnson to five-year, $63 million deal

The Philadelphia Eagles hammered out a five-year, $63 million contract extension for offensive tackle Lane Johnson today.
The deal includes $35.5 million guaranteed.
He’s under contract through the 2021 season.
He was selected fourth overall in 2013.
Johnson has started 45 games, and was suspended for four games in 2014 for violating the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy.
Johnson, 25, has played right tackle primarily.
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Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.
 

Chiefs sign tight end Travis Kelce to five-year, $46 million extension

The Kansas City Chiefs have rewarded Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce with a blockbuster contract.
He’s now the second-highest paid tight end in the league.
The five-year contract extension is worth $46 million, according to a league source.
It includes $20.5 million guaranteed. Kelce has caught 139 career passes for 1,737 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Today we reached an agreement with Travis and his representatives on a contract extension,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said. “He’s a talented football player that has become an important piece to what we do offensively. Travis is a high-character guy and a leader in our locker room.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.

Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo held out of Senior Bowl with ankle injury

MOBILE, Ala. — Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo is being held out of the remainder of the Senior Bowl week due to an ankle injury as a precautionary measure.

Carroo was impressive in drills at the all-star game prior to suffering the injury. He drew the most interest from the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, New York Jets, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Carroo is expected to make a full recovery as he prepares for the NFL draft.

The Edison, N.J. native and former blue-chip recruit from Don Bosco Prep was an All-Big third-team selection last season who was named the Scarlet Knights’ Most Valuable Player and Offensive Most Valuable Player. Carroo led the team with 39 catches, 809 yards and 10 touchdowns last season to lead the Big Ten Conference in touchdown receptions.

“I’ll bring a relentless, hard-working attitude to the NFL with a playing style that’s dynamic and will fit into any teams’ scheme and do my job and do what the coaches ask me to do,” Carroo told National Football Post. “It’s a dream come true.”
As a junior, Carroo was a third-team All-Big Ten Conference selection who caught 55 passes for 1,086 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s the first Rutgers player to be All-Big Ten Conference in consecutive years, was a team captain and is Rutgers’ all-time leader for touchdown catches.
The 6-foot, 210-pounder is training at IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and hopes to run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds at the NFL scouting combine in February. Carroo is working with former NFL receiver and receivers coach Henry Ellard and catching passes from Texas Christian quarterback Trevone Boykin.
“I’m pretty excited about the process,” said Carroo, who’s represented by veteran NFL agent Robert Roche. “I’m just letting everything play out. I’ve been here going into my fourth week. I love it here, especially the way they prepare you from a physical and mental standpoint, the way they take care of your body and prepare you for all phases of the game.”
Carroo is accustomed to assimilating to new offensive philosophies.
At Rutgers, Carroo had four different offensive coordinators in four years.
“I adjusted to four different pro-style offenses,” Carroo said. “I had a lot of languages to catch onto. Going through the coaching changes and trying to build relationships within one year definitely helps me for the NFL. You’ve got to be ready to be coached by anyone. I’m willing to take coaching.”
Carroo’s former Rutgers teammates include Patriots defensive backs Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon. Patriots coach Bill Belichick tends to like bringing in prospects from Rutgers.
“Definitely, he’s drafted a bunch of them,” Carroo said. “I’m friends with those guys and Devin McCourty. I have a great relationship with all of those guys. New England and Bill Belichick are big on guys that do their job. They remind me a lot of myself.
Out of high school, the New Jersey native decided to remain home after considering scholarship offers from Ohio State, Wisconsin, Florida, Miami, Cal, Boston College and Connecticut.
“Being from New Jersey, you learn about things like fighting through adversity,” Carroo said. “New Jersey is definitely a place I look at and am proud to say I’m from. There are a lot of tough people from New Jersey. I love being from New Jersey. That’s why I decided to remain at home.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.

Browns name Andrew Berry vice president of player personnel

The Cleveland Browns named Andrew Berry vice president of player personnel.
He was the Indianapolis Colts’ pro scouting coordinator.
“We are fortunate to add someone of Andrew’s caliber to the Cleveland Browns,” Browns executive Sashi Brown said. “Andrew has been part of a strong foundation in Indianapolis and possesses a tremendous understanding of what is needed to lead a successful, high functioning and comprehensive personnel group. He has been trained by some very experienced and highly successful personnel executives in the National Football League.
“Andrew understands what it takes to build a winning team and the individual traits that are essential in looking at each player that make up that team. Andrew’s strategic and relentless approach to improving his craft and this team will positively impact our short and long-term opportunities. We are excited to welcome him to Cleveland.”
“Andrew will be a great leader in our personnel department,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “In spending time with Andrew, it is evident that he has a very strong understanding of the game. His substance and depth in his analysis of how to build a successful team and how he looks at individual players will be a great benefit to us moving forward.  It is critical to not just rely on one individual but to have a leader in place that can bring together a comprehensive array of information from our talented and hard working group of scouts and raise the strategic level and success of our approach.”
“I am truly excited about the opportunity to work with the Cleveland Browns,” Berry said. “I look forward to collaborating with Hue, Sashi, Paul (DePodesta) and the personnel staff to make the most informed decisions to benefit our organization. Hue is an outstanding coach with a diversity of expertise and proven track record of success, while I think Sashi and Paul are two of the brightest minds in all of professional sports. Jimmy and Dee (Haslam) have made it clear that they are committed to providing a winning team to the most passionate fan base in the NFL and this is a fantastic opportunity to contribute to building the perennial contender that Browns fans deserve.”
Berry joined the Colts as a scouting assistant in 2009 and was elevated to pro scout in 2011. He was promoted to pro scouting coordinator in 2012. He worked with a Colts team that won four AFC South titles, made five postseason appearances and advanced to Super Bowl XLIV. During his time in Indianapolis, the Colts won 67 games, sixth-most in the NFL from 2009-15. With the Colts, his duties included managing the free agency process, scouting upcoming Colts’ opponents, evaluating NFL players and players other professional leagues. He also assisted with college scouting, preparation for the NFL draft and participated in contract negotiations during free agency.
He graduated cum laude from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s in computer science in just four years. Berry was a four-year starter as a corner and was a three-time All-Ivy League team selection and an All-America honoree. He totaled 125 career tackles and five interceptions. At one point during his junior year, Berry went four consecutive games without the ball being thrown in his direction.
Berry was one of five finalists for the John Wooden Citizenship Cup, which is awarded to the nation’s highest-achieving student-athlete who best displays character, teamwork, and citizenship. He was a finalist for the Draddy Trophy as the national scholar-athlete of the year and was named the 2009 Football Championship Subdivision Athletic Director Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
“Andrew Berry is one of the brightest young men we ever had the pleasure of working with,” Bill Polian said. “He came to us very early in his career and very soon we realized he was on a fast track. I am not surprised the Browns hired him for this very important position. I assure you he has both the capacity and the will to do an outstanding job. The Browns have made, in my humble opinion, a great hire.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.

Late Giants safety Tyler Sash had CTE

Former New York Giants safety Tyler Sash had a high level of CTE when he died at age 27, according to the New York Times.
Sash died from an accidental overdose of painkillers, and his family donated his brain to be studied for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The Times reports that “representatives from Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation notified the Sash family that CTE had been diagnosed in Tyler’s brain and that the disease, which can only be confirmed only posthumously, had advanced to a stage rarely seen in someone his age.”
Sash dealt with “confusion, memory loss and minor fits of temper,” that affected his ability to get a job after being cut by the Giants in 2013.
Sash had a Stage 2 CTE, roughly the same level that Junior Seau was at when he committed suicide.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.
 

Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson pleads guilty, avoids jail time

New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson avoided jail time for a high-speed chase, pleading guilty to resisting arrest.
He could face a suspension under the NFL personal-conduct policy.
He was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service for resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. He was fined $1,050.
When he completes probation, his record will be expunged.
Richardson served a four-game suspension to start the season for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy.
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Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.
 

The top moments and players from the 2016 NFL Playoffs.

The top moments and players from the NFL Playoffs.

Denver and Carolina are headed to Super Bowl 50. With the big game just around the corner, here are the top straight-up and against-the-spread plays as well as the top performances so far in the NFL Playoffs.

Straight-Up: How the game was won

Seahawks vs. Vikings – Wild Card

Russell Wilson rallied Seattle from a 9-0 (13 percent chance to win) fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 10-9 on Wild Card Weekend. Of course the Seahawks needed a missed 27-yard field goal by Blair Walsh with 26 seconds to play to win the game.

Minnesota was 76 percent likely to win before the field goal attempt.

Steelers vs. Bengals – Wild Card

This game will be remembered for a pair of personal fouls, one by Vontaze Burfict for a hit on Antonio Brown and the other by Adam Jones following the rough hit.

The penalties made the game winning field goal a chip shot (as long as you’re not Blair Walsh). What won’t be remembered is a critical 12-yard catch (on 4th-and-3) by Brown, one play before the Burfict hit, that gave the Steelers a first down in Cincinnati territory. The fourth down conversion increased Pittsburgh’s chance of winning by 43 and made the Steelers 77 percent likely to win.

Cardinals vs. Packers – Divisional Round

After Green Bay forced overtime with a Hail Mary, Larry Fitzgerald essentially won the game on the first play of the extra session.

A broken play turned into a 75-yard catch-and-run by Fitz that increased Arizona’s expected win probability by 28 percent (96 percent likely to win). The Cardinals scored the game-winning touchdown two plays later.

Broncos vs. Steelers – Divisional Round

With Pittsburgh leading 13-12 with less than ten minutes to play, running back Fitzgerald Toussaint had the ball punched out of his hands by Denver corner Bradley Roby. DeMarcus Ware recovered the loose ball.

The fumble was the biggest play in the game. The Broncos expected win probability increased by 27 percent and Denver became 62 percent likely to win.

Broncos vs. Patriots – AFC Championship

New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski might take the blame for missing an extra point in the first quarter of the Patriots 20-18 loss to the Denver Broncos. At the time, the missed extra point cost New England one percent in expected win probability but ultimately it forced the Patriots to go for a two-point conversion with 12 seconds remaining that failed.

No one would be talking about the missed extra point if it wasn’t for a great catch by Rob Gronkowski on fourth down that created the potential for extending the game.

Gronk’s catch increased the Patriots chance of winning by 34 percent. New England had a 36 percent chance to win the game prior to the two-point conversion attempt.

Against-the-Spread: How tickets were cashed

Kansas City vs. Houston – Wild Card

The Chiefs rolled the Texans 30-0 to kick off the NFL Playoffs. KC forced four first half turnovers including a pick of Brian Hoyer at the goal line as Houston threatened to make it a one possession game late in the first half. The interception increased Kansas City’s chance of covering the spread from 68 percent to 83 percent.

Packers vs. Cardinals – Divisional Round

4th-and-20 from his own four yard line, Aaron Rodgers connects with Jeff Janis for a 61-yard gain.

The improbable fourth down conversion put Green Bay on Arizona’s side of the field and increased the Packers chance of covering the spread from 0.1 percent to 87.1 percent.

Steelers vs. Broncos – Divisional Round

Trailing 23-13 with less than a minute to play, Roethlisberger found Martavis Bryant for a 22-yard gain (chance of covering increased from 18 percent to 50 percent) that put Pittsburgh into field goal range. The Steelers successfully converted the attempt to make it a one-possession game. More importantly, the extra three points covered the spread for those that had Pittsburgh +7.5.

Panthers vs. Cardinals – NFC Championship

Leading 10-0 late in the first quarter, Cam Newton found Philly Brown for an 86-yard catch and run.

The long touchdown gave Carolina a three score lead and increased the Panthers chance of covering the spread to 82 percent (19 percent increase).

Broncos vs. Patriots – AFC Championship

Von Miller and the Denver defense hounded Tom Brady all day. When Miller wasn’t hitting the quarterback he was intercepting his passes.

Miller’s pick of Brady made the Broncos 71 percent likely to cover the spread with a 7-6 lead and possession in the red zone.

Top Player Performances

Ben Roethlisberger – Wild Card

Big Ben’s numbers weren’t epic (18 of 31 for 229 yards and a touchdown) but he returned from a shoulder injury to lead Pittsburgh on the game-winning drive. Roethlisberger was worth 59.9 percent in net win probability to the Steelers.

Aaron Rodgers – Wild Card

After a slow start (1-of-8 passing in 1st quarter) Aaron Rodgers played like a two-time MVP. Rodgers finished with 210 passing yards and two touchdowns. The Packers quarterback was worth 36.9 percent toward Green Bay’s 35-18 win over Washington.

Jordan Reed – Wild Card

Washington might have lost but anyone who rostered Reed on their daily fantasy team was a big winner. The tight end caught nine balls for 120 yards and a touchdown. Reed scored 30 fantasy points (the most of any player in Wild Card Weekend) and did his part to try and help Washington win (+23.8 percent in expected win probability).

Carson Palmer – Divisional Round

In his first playoff win, Palmer lit up the scoreboard throwing for 349 yards and three touchdowns. The Cardinals quarterback was worth 62.5 percent in net value in Arizona’s 26-20 overtime victory.

Tom Brady – Divisional Round

With the help of Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, Tom Brady had himself a day. The four-time Super Bowl champion completed 67 percent of his passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns. Brady was the most valuable player on the field (+41.8 percent in win probability) in a 27-20 win over Kansas City.

Jeff Janis – Divisional Round

When you make plays like this…

You deserve a shout out. In a losing effort, Janis hauled in seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie receiver made the most of his opportunity and added 22.9 percent of value to the Packers.

Rob Gronkowski – AFC Championship

Gronk was nearly unstoppable in the Patriots loss in Denver. The star tight end caught eight balls for 144 yards and a touchdown. Gronk had two key catches on New England last drive: a 40-yard catch-and-run on fourth down with less than a minute to play and then a touchdown on another fourth down that gave the Pats hope of tying the game. In all, Gronk’s net value was 39.5 percent to New England in the loss.

Cam Newton – NFC Championship

Newton finished with 335 yards passing and 47 rushing yards as well as four total touchdowns. Superman added 10 percent in expected win probability, which doesn’t sound like much until you realize Carolina was greater than 80 percent likely to win in the first quarter and the Panthers eventually routed the Cardinals 49-15.

Peyton Manning – AFC Championship

The Denver defense was fantastic hitting Brady at will and forcing two turnovers. Yet, it was Manning, the game-manager, that was the most valuable player for the Broncos. Manning worth 15.1 percent in net value to Denver after throwing two first half touchdowns and no interceptions (he had 17 in the regular season).

Patriots practice squad receiver J.J. Worton arrested for assault, attorney says it was self-defense

Former New England Patriots practice squad wide receiver J.J. Worton was arrested in Massachusetts on two counts of indecent assault and one count of assault and battery, but his attorney said it was a case of self-defense.
The former Central Florida player was detained in Foxboro, Massachusetts after allegedly punching a man at a bar. The incident stemmed from an allegation that Worton inappropriately touched two women, including the girlfriend of the man he touched.
He wasn’t required to post bond after his arrest. He was detained for two hours.
Worton through his attorney, Carol-Ann Fraser, issued a written statement to National Football Post where he denied making intentional contact with the women.
“He tried to avoid confrontation and had to defend himself when the boyfriend of a woman at the bar chased him outside of the bar and around the parking lot and physically confronted him,” said Fraser, through a written statement to the Orlando Sentinel.

The Patriots signed Worton to the practice squad in January. At Central Florida, he finished with 168 receptions for 2,360 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns.
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Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.

Duron Carter, Cris Carter's son, back with Montreal Alouettes

Former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Duron Carter has rejoined the Montreal Alouettes after one season in the NFL.
The son of NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter, Duron Carter had 124 catches for 1,939 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in two seasons for the Alouettes.
With the Colts in the preseason, he caught nine passes for 126 yards.
“We welcome Duron back to the Alouettes family,” Alouettes coach and general manager Jim Poll said. “His ability to make big plays will add unlimited potential to our new revamped offense.”
Carter had 75 catches for 1,030 yards and seven touchdowns in 2014 and was named a CFL All-Star.
As a rookie in 2013, Carter made 49 catches for gains of 909 yards.
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Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.