Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams Will Play Sunday

The Packers could be near full strength on Sunday as they face the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game, as wide receivers Jordy Nelson (ribs), Davante Adams (ankle), and Geronimo Allison (hamstring), as well as safety Morgan Burnett (thigh), are expected to be available to play, according to Tim Silverstein and Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.Jordy Nelson (vertical)

[RELATED: Trent Baalke Could Join Packers Front Office]

Green Bay will need all its weapons in order to compete with a high-powered Atlanta offense in a playoff contest where the over/under is north of 60 points. With Nelson sidelined last week against the Cowboys, the Packers were able to lean on tight end Jared Cook — and the magic of Aaron Rodgers — as they won their eighth straight game. Adams and Allison were both available for that game, however, and attempting to defeat the Falcons without three of their top four receivers would have been difficult.

The Packers did make a move to improve their wide receiver depth, promoting pass-catcher Max McCaffrey from the practice squad to the active roster earlier today. Other receivers on Green Bay’s depth chart include Randall Cobb, Jeff Janis, and Trevor Davis, all of whom could be asked to take on a larger than average role if Nelson, Adams, or Allison aren’t at full speed on Sunday.

Burnett’s presence is also important as the Packers try to slow down Atlanta’s No. 1-ranked DVOA offense. In 15 games this season, Burnett has racked up two interceptions and nine passes defensed while ranking as the league’s No. 14 safety, per Pro Football Focus.

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Mario Addison Wants To Re-Sign With Panthers

Pending free agent defensive end Mario Addison would like to re-sign with the Panthers, according to David Newton of ESPN.com.Mario Addison (Vertical)

[RELATED: Carolina Panthers Depth Chart]

The 29-year-old Addison led Carolina with 9.5 sacks in 2016 and graded as the No. 16 edge defender in the league, per Pro Football Focus, but played on fewer than 500 defensive snaps, an indication that he may not be capable of playing a full-time role. However, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera did refer to Addison as a “complete defensive end” at the end of last season, per Newton, and he’s certainly a valuable defender as a rotational option.

Addison isn’t the only Carolina defensive lineman scheduled to hit free agency in March, as Kawann Short, Charles Johnson, Wes Horton, and Kyle Love are all heading for the open market. As such, the pass rush could be an area of focus in the coming months, as I detailed while covering the Panthers’ top three offseason needs.

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Latest On Josh McDaniels’ 49ers Withdrawal

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels lost interest in the 49ers head coaching job after New England executive Nick Caserio declined to interview for the San Francisco general manager vacancy, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. Prior to Caserio’s decision, he and McDaniels were considered the “runaway favorites” to join the 49ers as a package deal, adds Maiocco.Josh McDaniels (Vertical)

[RELATED: Kyle Shanahan Likely To Become 49ers Head Coach]

McDaniels, 40, was linked to two vacancies in addition to the 49ers this offseason, as he also took interviews with the Rams and Jaguars. However, despite reports that McDaniels was one of three finalists for the job (and preferred San Francisco to other landing spots), the Patriots OC announced last week that he had withdrawn his name from consideration. Family concerns were also thought to play into McDaniels’ decision, as he reportedly worried about moving his wife and children across the country.

Caserio, meanwhile, decided to not even entertain the notion of joining the 49ers, personally turning down an interview request from San Francisco ownership. The idea that he and McDaniels were viewed as a tandem makes sense, especially given that the pair enjoys a long working relationship that dates back to their playing days at John Carroll University. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ exhaustive general manager search is still ongoing, though the club appears to be zeroing in on final candidates.

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J’Marcus Webb Suspended Four Games

Free agent offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb has been suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). There’s no word as to the cause of the ban.J'Marcus Webb

[RELATED: 2017 Free Agent Power Rankings]

Webb, 28, signed a two-year deal worth $6.25MM with the Seahawks prior to the 2016 campaign, a pact that contained nearly $2.5MM in guarantees. Slated to serve as Seattle’s right tackle, Webb made only three starts — and appeared in just eight total games — before being waived in November. His release wasn’t unwarranted, as Webb had earned a substantially below-average grade of 38.2 from Pro Football Focus.

Though he does offer positional flexibility, Webb didn’t garner much interest after being cut loose by the Seahawks. The 49ers were the only club to take a look at Webb, bringing him in for a workout in December.

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Latest On Colts’ Decision-Making Structure

The Colts will conduct an expansive GM search, owner Jim Irsay said Saturday (via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, on Twitter) and one that will include internal candidate Jimmy Raye III. The team will interview Raye, the Colts’ VP of football operations, for the position, and Raye will serve as interim general manager in the meantime.

Raye and Chuck Pagano will travel to the Senior Bowl to head up the team’s presence there. Pagano will stay on as the Colts’ coach in 2017, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This comes after Irsay fired GM Ryan Grigson, whose hire led to Pagano’s in 2012.

I hope Chuck can be our coach for many years to come. He is our coach,” Irsay said.

Another report surfaced just before Irsay’s press conference noting Peyton Manning has a high-level Colts executive job waiting for him if he wants it, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com writes. However, Irsay said today Manning is not in consideration for the GM job, Scheter tweets. The owner and his previous employee had conversations this offseason, however, and Breer tweets Manning would be considered for a role in the organization, per Irsay.

Regarding the Jon Gruden pursuit, Irsay denied he talked to the current ESPN analyst for the team’s HC position. Instead, the owner said the conversations with Gruden were to get feedback on the team, per Holder (on Twitter). Irsay also said he’s had discussions with former GM Bill Polian but added he will not have a role with the organization, Holder tweets.

Raye interviewed for the 49ers’ GM job but was not given finalist consideration. Irsay noted today he has a list of candidates in mind, but the assortment is fluid at this point, Holder tweets.

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Latest On Raiders’ Extension Plans

The Raiders have been able to stockpile veteran UFAs in recent years because of a lack of homegrown extensions on their payroll. But they will soon need to cut back on offseason spending because of two stars becoming extension-eligible. And Reggie McKenzie doesn’t appear to be inclined to wait on what figure to be the two most expensive extensions in Raiders history.

Derek Carr will enter a contract year without a fifth-year option safety net, while Khalil Mack can be controlled on his rookie deal through 2018 because of that clause in the former first-rounder’s pact. McKenzie wants both players to be locked up to long-term contracts by the end of next season.

The good thing is we do have time, but I’m not the type to wait until the last minute,” McKenzie said, via Jerry McDonald of the San Jose Mercury News. “Those two guys are not only great players, but they’re great men and they are true Raiders and I want to make sure we do the best that we can to make sure they stay Raiders.

A quarterback is going to command a high dollar. Khalil is going to command a high dollar. We’ll work around it, but we don’t feel at this point threatened by it.

The Raiders stand to possess more than $46MM in cap space this year. They shouldn’t be as active in free agency compared to last year as a result of these looming deals, McKenzie acknowledged, and the Carr accord figures to be one of the more scrutinized negotiations this summer.

Carr is set to make just more than $977K in base salary this season, so he could add an extra year of franchise-quarterback money by signing before his walk year, a la Russell Wilson. The 2014 second-rounder’s worth became painfully obvious after he went down in Week 16, with the Raiders ending their season with two one-sided defeats. Carr figures to be in position to command a deal well north of $20MM per year, seeing as he’ll be 26 in March and the Raiders having not employed a young franchise-caliber quarterback since probably Ken Stabler. Andrew Luck‘s five-year, $122MM agreement could be in sight.

Mack will count $5.942MM toward Oakland’s cap in 2017; that’s the 10th-highest cap figure on a payroll that features UFA signings representing its nine highest salaries. The Raiders will have an incredibly easy decision when choosing to exercise Mack’s fifth-year option worth approximately $13.7MM. A defensive player of the year candidate, Mack could target Von Miller‘s $19MM-AAV threshold and become the league’s first $20MM-per-year defender. The cap’s continued rise, and Mack being two years younger than Miller, point to him potentially raising the standard.

McKenzie’s language dictates the superstar pass-rusher probably won’t have to wait until after his fifth season to receive his landmark extension like Miller did.

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Packers Place J.C. Tretter On IR

The Packers won’t be seeing a J.C. Tretter comeback if they advance to Super Bowl LI. Green Bay placed the center on IR a day before its NFC title tilt in Atlanta, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

Tretter has not played since the Packers’ seventh game of the season, when he suffered a knee injury. The team kept him on the roster in hopes of a possible return but will now promote rookie wideout Max McCaffrey to its 53-man roster. Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison are considered game-time decisions due to injuries on Sunday.

A third-year center, Tretter started in all seven games he played this season and suffered the knee injury during the Packers’ last trip to Atlanta. At first, this was believed to be fairly minor, but it ended up costing Tretter most of his third season. Mike McCarthy revealed this week Tretter would not have been an option in the Packers-Falcons rematch after undergoing surgery earlier this week. Fellow third-year man Corey Linsley came off the PUP list in November and resumed his role as the team’s starting center, one he’s held for the past three seasons.

The son of Ed McCaffrey and older brother of Christian, Max McCaffrey has not played in a game yet this season. He caught on with the Packers’ practice squad late in the regular season.

Colts Fire GM Ryan Grigson

Jim Irsay‘s long wait regarding a commitment to his top decision-makers appears to be over. The Colts relieved GM Ryan Grigson of his duties today, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Grigson spent five seasons as Indianapolis’ GM, but Irsay had not given an indication despite the Colts being more than three weeks into their offseason that he would be back for 2017. The Colts announced Irsay will address the media later today.

Chuck Pagano is believed to be safe for the time being, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, but Irsay pulling the trigger on the Grigson ouster nearly three weeks after the season ended shouldn’t create any job security among Colts staffers. Regardless, Indianapolis’ offseason start will be delayed considerably because of this timing.

Irsay has been operating in secret attempting to hire a new GM and coach, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter). La Canfora adds (via Twitter) the Colts think highly of vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III, who interviewed for the 49ers’ GM job but did not make the list of finalists.

Irsay made some headlines last week when a report emerged he pursued both Jon Gruden and Peyton Manning for a coaching/front-office setup. That didn’t end up coming to fruition, but the owner’s frustration at the state of the franchise has produced a job casualty. Should Pagano return, he will certainly be on the hot seat. Both Grigson and Pagano were thought to be on the way out after an 8-8 season in 2015, but Irsay signed both to extensions instead in a development that surprised many.

Following their extensions, the Colts again missed the playoffs — this time with a full season of Andrew Luck‘s services. That had not happened since Luck arrived. The 2015 season featured just seven games of the Colts’ starting quarterback being healthy and could have been written off. But Indy repeating with an 8-8 record proved too much for the Irsay, who hadn’t seen his franchise miss consecutive AFC playoff brackets since the 1997-98 seasons.

The 44-year-old Indiana native was a first-time GM upon being hired to succeed Hall of Famer Bill Polian, and the Colts immediately rebounded from the 2-14 in 2011 with a run of playoff berths behind Luck. Indianapolis went 11-5 for the next three years, finishing each season one week later, peaking with the Deflategate-marred 2014 AFC championship game. Following the 2012 draft that included Luck and T.Y. Hilton, the Colts have not been able to acquire similar talent. None of Grigson’s 2013 draftees remain on the team, and the much-hyped 2015 veteran contingent added to potentially push the Colts to the Super Bowl largely did not pan out. Only Frank Gore excelled when given a key role upon being brought in along with Andre Johnson and Trent Cole.

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Draft Notes: Kizer, Buccaneers, Dolphins

While some scouts believe the 2017 quarterbacks class is “one of the worst in recent memory,” Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com believes one prospect has the potential and skill to be the first pick in the draft.

DeShone Kizer, I went to see his first game against Texas, and this looked like a potential first-overall pick,” Jeremiah said of the Notre Dame quarterback. “He’s big, he’s physical, he can make every throw. He can move around, he’s got 18 rushing touchdowns over the last couple of years. His play, along with Notre Dame’s, kind of tailed off at the end of the year.”

Ultimately, Jeremiah had Kizer going to the Jets at the sixth pick.

Let’s take a look at some other rumblings pertaining to the NFL draft…

  • Several draft analysists have the Buccaneers taking a defensive player with their first-round pick, and Roy Cummings of FloridaFootballInsiders.com generally agrees with that logic. Prolific pass rushers like Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton and Missouri defensive end Charles Harris would only be available in the first round. While the team could certainly use some reinforcement on offense, Cummings points out that the team could snag a wide receiver or running back in the later rounds.
  • The Dolphins could use some depth at tight end, and head coach Adam Gase has had success when featuring tight ends in his offense (like Martellus Bennett in Chicago and Julius Thomas in Denver). Fortunately, this year’s draft will be particularly deep at that position, and ESPN.com’s James Walker notes that the Dolphins could snag a tight end in the second round or later.
  • Walker also passes along quotes from draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., who explains the types of tight ends the team could expect to take in the later rounds. “You got to take advantage of the depth at that spot,” Kiper said. “A kid I think can be really good is Cole Hikutini out of Louisville. If you can get Hikutini in the third or fourth round, I think that will make a lot of sense… They can get the linebacking help and they can get the tight-end help in this draft.”

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Redskins, Vikings, Seahawks

The Cowboys defensive line struggled at times this past season, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the team would be searching for some reinforcement this offseason. Executive vice president Stephen Jones essentially confirmed that the team would be pursuing an edge rusher when appearing on Ben and Skin on KRLD-FM 105.3 The Fan (via DallasNews.com):

“There’s no question. That’s why we always have to continue to be better. We haven’t done a good job of that. We’ve tried in several different ways to make that happen. But as we sit here today, we don’t have that player. We saw glimpses of that with Randy Gregory, but that’s a huge question mark as to when he might be able to come back and be a football player in the NFL. Getting his life off the field in the right order is the most important thing. But in the mean time, there’s no question what our needs are. The focus is gonna be on defense.

“You don’t ever shut your eye to a player who can help improve you on the offensive side of the ball either. We showed that last year when everybody knew how bad we needed defense and we obviously picked Zeke. Had the right rationale for it. I don’t think anything could have gone more according to plan than picking Zeke. I don’t think you ever rule out anything. That’s how you make huge mistakes. But I think it’s obvious to anyone who watches our football team that the defensive side of the football, especially our front seven, is where we need the most improvement.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • The Redskins‘ search for a defensive coordinator will be entering a third week, and one player believes the wait is a positive sign for outside linebackers coach (and candidate) Greg Manusky. ESPN.com’s John Keim writes that the former Colts defensive coordinator has the support of the Redskins players, and he notes that the front office may appreciate the continuity and Manusky’s familiarity with the organization.
  • Keim writes that the Redskins want to hang on to assistant defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, noting that Sean McVay has had interest in bringing his former co-worker to the Rams. Pleasant played a significant role in helping former wideout Quinton Dunbar transition to a defensive back.
  • UCLA has hired Vikings assistant offensive line coach Hank Fraley as their new offensive line coach, reports Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports (via Twitter). The former NFL lineman had spent the past three seasons in Minnesota, and he previously coached at the University of San Diego and San Jose State.
  • The Seahawks worked out a trio of players yesterday, according to Howard Balzer on Twitter: offensive linemen Pierce Burton and Tayo Fabuluje and defensive end B.J. McBryde. Fabuluje, a former sixth-round pick, played four game for the Bears in 2015. Burton and McBryde have yet to play in an NFL game.

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