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Cowboys’ Deadline For Tony Romo Solution Is Training Camp

The Cowboys will make a decision on the future of quarterback Tony Romo before training camp, team owner Jerry Jones told reporters, including Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link).Tony Romo (featured)

Earlier this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Romo could stick on the Dallas roster past the draft, but Jones’ deadline extends even further. If the Cowboys hold onto Romo until training camp, he may not find a new club until July. With his options already dwindling (the Broncos seem to be content with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch), Romo may find himself in an untenable situation this summer.

The Texans still stand out as a possible destination for Romo, and the 36-year-old reportedly believes he’ll end up choosing between Houston and retirement. Still, it’s fair to wonder if the Texans — or any other club that may have interest in Romo — is willing to wait until the summer to land its quarterback.

Of course, Romo does have off-the-field options, as both CBS and FOX are courting him as a television analyst.

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Eagles Sign Patrick Robinson

The Eagles have signed cornerback Patrick Robinson to a one-year deal, the club announced. The pact is worth $1MM, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).Patrick Robinson (vertical)

[RELATED: Eagles Sign Chris Long]

Philadelphia’s two major needs heading into the offseason were wide receiver and cornerback, and while the Eagles tackled wideout by adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency, the club was still hunting for help in its secondary. Robinson will join a defensive backfield that is currently comprised by Ron Brooks, Jalen Mills, Dwayne Gratz, and C.J. Smith. Even after inking Robinson, Philadelphia will likely still target more cornerbacks, either through free agency or the draft.

Robinson, 29, signed a three-year, $14MM deal that contained $6MM with the Colts in 2016. Injuries, including a concussion and groin and knee ailments, nagged Robinson during his first season in Indianapolis, and he ultimately played in only seven games. The Eagles, however, are hoping Robinson can rebound to the level of play he displayed in 2015 with the Chargers.

Robinson ranked as PFR’s fourth-best free agent corner heading into today, behind Nickell Robey-Coleman, Darrelle Revis, and Brandon Flowers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Extend Jason Witten

The Cowboys have signed tight end Jason Witten to an extension that will keep him in Dallas through the 2021 campaign, the club announced. The four-year deal has a maximum value of $29.6MM, but doesn’t contain any additional guaranteed cash, tweets Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News.Jason Witten (vertical)

Set to earn a base salary of $7.4MM, Witten will count for $12.262MM on Dallas’ salary cap in 2017. That figure will not change, according to Archer (Twitter link), who indicates Witten’s cap charge will remain stagnant during the upcoming season. However, the Cowboys can still restructure Witten’s contract at any time to gain cap room.

Heading into today, Dallas was in the worst cap situation in the league, as the club had less than $2MM in 2017 cap space. While the Cowboys will pick up more room when Tony Romo is inevitably removed from the roster, the Witten extension could have handed Dallas more financial space. Surprisingly, Dallas opted not to give Witten a signing bonus that would have prorated over the next five seasons and lowered his 2017 cap figure.

From an on-field perspective, Witten’s extension allows the Cowboys to retain a still-productive tight end for the foreseeable future. 2016 marked Witten’s 14th season in Dallas, and the 10-time Pro Bowler posted 69 receptions for 673 yards and three touchdowns. He also remained remarkably durable, as he appeared in all 16 games for the 13th consecutive year (Witten’s only missed contest in his career came during his rookie campaign).

Witten will turn 35 years old this summer, so he’s now signed through his age-40 season.

Todd Archer of ESPN.com first reported the extension. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Sign Chris Long

The Eagles announced that they’ve signed free agent defensive end Chris Long to a two-year deal. The first year of the deal is similar to the $2.4MM pact Long inked with the Patriots last year, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).Chris Long (vertical)

Long’s deal with Philadelphia serves as a nice birthday present, as the nine-year pro turns 32 years old today. After spending one season with New England (and winning a Super Bowl in the process), Long announced earlier this month that he wouldn’t re-sign with the Patriots, citing the need for increased playing time and a more prominent defensive role. Long ranked as PFR’s No. 3 free agent edge defender behind Dwight Freeney and Elvis Dumervil.

With the Eagles, Long will likely fill the role Connor Barwin played in 2016, although unlike Barwin, Long probably won’t be a starter, per Geoff Mosher of 97.5 The Fanatic (Twitter links). Instead, Long is set to serve in a rotational capacity, taking pass-rushing snaps behind Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. While Barwin was never a perfect fit for Jim Schwartz‘s scheme, Long has played in 4-3 fronts for the entirety of his career.

With the Patriots in 2016, Long appeared in all 16 games (seven starts) and played on roughly 65% of the club’s snaps. In that period, Long posted 35 tackles and four sacks, grading as the league’s No. 59 edge defender among 109 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

Mike Garafolo of NFL.com first reported the signing (Twitter link). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colin Kaepernick Pushing For Starting Job

It has been widely speculated that Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed from the NFL. However, it doesn’t sound like that’s quite the case. The controversial former Niners quarterback doesn’t want just any job, he wants a chance to compete for a starting job with a salary “befitting a high-end backup quarterback or a low-end starter,” ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano hears. Colin Kaepernick (vertical)

That would put Kaepernick in range for a salary of $9MM-$10MM, Graziano writes, an asking price seems outrageous given his lack of performance and polarizing politics. As noted in the article, there are only five teams who could realistically offer Kaepernick a chance to start – the Browns, Jets, Texans, Broncos, and 49ers. However, there’s no way the Niners are going back down that road and the Jets don’t seem likely given owner Woody Johnson’s relationship with the president. If Tony Romo wants to continue playing and secures his release, he could wind up with either Houston or Denver, taking another team off the already narrow list.

Ultimately, Kaepernick will have to dial down his expectations if he hopes to land a deal for the coming year. He might not get to compete for a starting job and he certainly won’t be paid like a starter. The reality is that multiple teams have probably crossed him off the list over fear of him becoming a locker room distraction. With less suitors in the mix, the price naturally drops for any remaining clubs with interest. Until he’s willing to settle for less, Kaepernick will remain unemployed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Approves Raiders’ Move To Las Vegas

NFL owners have voted to approve the Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas, Nevada. With at least 24 votes in favor of the relocation, the road has been paved for the Raiders to leave town and start anew in Sin City. The final tally was 31-1, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link), with the Dolphins as the only nay vote.Raiders cheerleader (vertical)

For many Bay Area fans, this is a crushing blow. The Oakland Raiders were born in 1960 as a member of the revolutionary American Football League. The city of Oakland lost its team in the early 1980s when it migrated to Los Angeles, but the Raiders returned for the 1995 NFL season. Now, more than 20 years later, the Raiders are leaving all over again and, this time, it’s probably for good.

On Monday morning, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf asked the NFL to hold off on voting, but that was a low-percentage shot in the dark likely designed to try and salvage Schaaf’s standing with dejected Raiders fans. Owners reportedly still like the Bay Area as an NFL market, but they did not agree with Schaaf’s assertion that Oakland has put forward a viable stadium solution. The Raiders have secured a record $750MM in public money for their new LV digs and that will be a major bargaining chip for the league in its future efforts to get stadiums built with taxpayer funds.

Even with the green light from NFL owners, it remains to be seen where the Raiders will play their games between now and when the $1.9 billion stadium is built. The Raiders will play in Oakland in 2017 and they have pledged to play there in 2018 as well. However, if the local fan reaction is too much for the Raiders to withstand, they may want to blow the popsicle stand early. UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium could serve as a temporary host for the team, but it will probably need upgrades to meet league standards. If things go south this year in Oakland, those upgrades will have to be in place sooner rather than later.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Offering Hankins Multiyear Deal

It appears the Giants have a legitimate shot to re-sign free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, and if it happens, it’s unlikely he’ll have to settle for a “prove-it” deal. The Giants have a multiyear offer on the table for Hankins, reports the NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones, who adds that the proposal “stacks up well in this free agent market.” New York has had a “solid offer” on the table “for weeks,” though Hankins is holding out for a far richer contract, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com adds (Twitter links).

Johnathan Hankins (vertical)

While it’s obvious Hankins’ goal is a sizable payday, it could be difficult to come by for a player who has only drawn reported interest from one other team, the Dolphins. And unfortunately for Hankins, Miami doesn’t seem particularly gung-ho on the 25-year-old, as it’s only searching for a rotational defensive tackle to play with Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips. On the other hand, Hankins has been a full-time starter in New York since 2014, his second season in the league.

By retaining Hankins, which Jones expects to happen, the Giants would return all 11 defensive starters from last year, she notes. That would be an auspicious development for a team whose defense topped the NFC in DVOA and finished second overall in the league, trailing only the Broncos’ all-world stop unit.

It’s debatable how much of an impact Hankins made last year, as he didn’t post mind-blowing traditional stats (43 tackles and three sacks), nor did he impress Pro Football Focus or some around the NFL. Nevertheless, Giants owner John Mara made it clear Sunday that the team would like to re-sign Hankins if it’s financially feasible.

“We certainly want him back but it’s got to make sense for us,” Mara told Tom Rock of Newsday. “He’s an important part of our team, he’s a great kid, he’s young and he fits in very well with us. So we hope to have him back.”

The Giants have upward of $12MM in spending space remaining, Raanan reported Thursday, which puts them toward the bottom of the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

CBS, FOX Courting Tony Romo

There has been a lot of speculation about where Tony Romo will play in 2017, but there exists the possibility that he doesn’t play at all. Both FOX and CBS are interested in adding the Cowboys quarterback to their broadcast teams, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweetsTony Romo (vertical)

After months of speculation about where the Cowboys quarterback could end up and how he’ll get there (trade or release), he remains in limbo. There is no realistic scenario in which he remains in Dallas to hold the clipboard for Dak Prescott. By the same token, the Cowboys are still hoping to get something to get something in return for him via trade, if possible. A trade would also allow them to dictate Romo’s landing spot. A wink-wink deal between the quarterback and Dallas owner Jerry Jones could steer him away from rival clubs, but a swap would give the Cowboys a level of certainty that a CBA rule-breaking handshake would not.

Of course, it’s not 100% clear that Romo wants to continue playing in the NFL. Now on the cusp of his 37th birthday, Romo has more money than he could ever spend and plenty of nagging injuries to already deal with. After injuries effectively sidelined the veteran for two straight seasons, no one would blame Romo for transitioning to the broadcast booth.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Host Bucs DE Jacquies Smith On Visit

Buccaneers defensive end Jacquies Smith is on a visit to the 49ers, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Smith is a restricted free agent, so the Bucs reserve the right to match any offer sheet. "<strong

Smith was given the original round/right of first refusal tender by Tampa Bay this offseason. Because he entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012, the Buccaneers would not receive any draft compensation if they allowed an offer sheet to go unmatched.

Smith, 27, compiled 13.5 sacks between the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He suffered a torn ACL last season, but he is almost fully recovered, according to Rapoport. He was the only Tampa Bay defensive end with more than five sacks in 2015 and the team’s decision to give him the lowest level tender came as a bit of a surprise.

The Bucs currently project to start Robert Ayers and William Gholston at the defensive end spots. Beyond those two, they have Noah Spence, Davonte Lambert, and three other defensive ends under contract, not including Smith.

The Niners, meanwhile, have Arik Armstead and Aaron Lynch at defensive end with Ronald Blair and Zach Moore in support. If healthy, Smith could give them a big boost on the defensive line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Cut DL Arthur Jones

The Colts announced that they have released defensive lineman Arthur Jones. The move will save the team $5.15MM in cap space. Arthur Jones (vertical)

[RELATED: Details On Kamar Aiken’s Contract]

Jones joined the Colts on a five-year, $33MM deal prior to the 2014 season. He never came close to living up to that contract. In the past three years, he has played in just 17 combined regular season games, including a completely lost 2015 season. This time last year, Jones took a pay cut in order to stay with the team. This time around, he’s being dropped altogether. Injuries and underwhelming production played a major role in his release, but Jones’ PED suspension in 2016 probably didn’t help his cause either.

In the short amount of time he spent on the field in 2016, Jones didn’t really deliver. In eight games, Jones tallied 30 total tackles. When his season ended on IR in December, the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus had him ranked as the No. 120 defensive tackle out of 126 qualified players.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.