Nothing breaks up the monotony of training camp like a Harbaugh hoedown.

As expected, the Baltimore Ravens announced they will host the San Francisco 49ers for some scrimmages during training camp. The workouts between the former Super Bowl opponents appeared likely once the NFL announced earlier this month that the 49ers would open the preseason at Baltimore Aug. 7.

It is the first time the 49ers are playing on the East Coast in the preseason in nearly 20 years. The Harbaugh brothers -- John coaches the Ravens and Jim coaches the 49ers -- are going to take advantage of the long trip for the 49ers to get some extra competition time in.

NFL teams often do this in the offseason. This scenario is a bit different because the practices will be held after the game. John Harbaugh told reporters the two teams will practice at Baltimore’s M&T Stadium on Aug. 8. They will work at the Ravens’ practice facility for the next three days. The 49ers then host Denver the following weekend in their first game at Levi’s Stadium.

“We felt like the first two weeks, we needed to do our install process and all that kind of stuff and it would be better after the game,” John Harbaugh said. “It’s just going to be fantastic. I can’t wait to do it.”

In Harbaugh style, expect it to be a full family affair, including an appearance by the coaches' 74-year-old father, Jack.

“Dad is going to be out there,” John Harbaugh said. “He’s going to be the unofficial official. He’s going to be in charge of breaking up all fights. If we start rolling around on the field, Dad is going to have to jump in, I guess."

Just like old times.
Khalil Mack remains a very large mystery when it comes to the Cleveland Browns' draft plans.

Mack was the standout linebacker for the University at Buffalo whose draft stock in the eyes of NFL types has remained consistently high.

Merrill Hoge calls Mack the best football player -- not workout warrior or speed demon -- in the draft, and those projecting the picks consistently have him in the top 10, with some putting him top three or four.

[+] EnlargeKhalil Mack
David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty ImagesLinebacker Khalil Mack returned this interception for a touchdown against Ohio State.
Browns coach Mike Pettine described Mack this way at the NFL owner’s meetings: “Explosive athlete. He's a guy that tested extremely well, but he's not a tester. He's not a combine warrior. He's a guy that the tape backs it up. He can play on the ball, he can play off the ball, he plays violently and he's played some of his better games against better competition.”

Pettine said his nickname once was Blunt Force Trauma. Mack seems to fit that mold. He’s a 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker who can rush the passer and drop into coverage, a pretty rare combination of skills in this day of specialization.

Would the Browns take Mack?

Why not?

Before they do, they have to believe two things. The first is that the top quarterbacks are not good enough to take with the No. 4 overall pick. The second is that they can find a receiver lower in this receiver-deep draft to pair with Josh Gordon as opposed to using the No. 4 pick on Sammy Watkins (who remains the preferred choice in my draft corner, though Mack is a not-very-distant second).

Mack brings a lot to the table, but the main concern is he stood out in the MAC, which will never be confused with the SEC. Pettine even admitted the MAC is “perceived to be a lesser conference.”

“But then you see him play against Ohio State ...” Pettine said.

Mack dominated, with nine tackles, 2 sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown. That game is Mack’s argument to the “lesser conference” criticism.

Mack and Jadeveon Clowney in the same draft almost harkens back to 1999 when running backs Ricky Williams and Edgerrin James were eligible. Williams was considered the sure thing, but Bill Polian took James first, and he turned out to be the better player. Mack might in the long run be the better overall player.

Mack is touted as an outside linebacker, and with his pass-rush ability he could even line up at end. But Pettine said he would not limit him.

“I think when you have a special guy like that, I think his home base will be outside, but we'll look to move him all around to take advantage of his ability,” Pettine said.

ESPN.com Senior Editor Chris Sprow has worked with Mel Kiper Jr. for five years, helping Kiper with reports and scouting. He went to the Ohio State-Buffalo game and focused specifically on Mack. He points out that the balance with Mack is this: If he’s a great pass-rusher, he’s a top-five pick. But if he doesn’t develop into a great pass-rusher, a team then is using a pick on a very solid outside linebacker. Mack’s coverage skills and his ability to play in space are excellent, but the pass-rush skills are what put him over the top.

We don’t know what the Browns will do if Mack is available, but it almost seems like a Draft Day/Kevin Costner kind of scenario. Maybe the Browns would look at Mack as their Vontae Mack -- a guy simply too good to pass up.

The fact that their names are the same is pure coincidence.
The Baltimore Ravens picked up the fifth-year option on cornerback Jimmy Smith well before the May 3 deadline, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

This was never in doubt because coach John Harbaugh said at last month's NFL owners meetings that the Ravens would exercise it. The real question is whether Smith will play the 2015 season under that option salary.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Smith
Kiichiro Sato/AP PhotoRavens CB Jimmy Smith has held his own against the likes of Chicago star Brandon Marshall.
“We are hopeful that we can sign Jimmy long-term," Harbaugh said in late March. "That will be our goal.”

In 2013, Smith lived up to the expectations of being the No. 27 overall pick after a couple of up and down seasons. He not only emerged as the team's top cornerback in his first full season as a starter but he ranked among the best in the AFC North.

The key to Smith's development was staying healthy and gaining confidence. He made two interceptions and broke up 16 passes while limiting some of the best receivers in the league: Cincinnati's A.J. Green, Cleveland’s Josh Gordon, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Chicago's Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.

The option will pay Smith somewhere between $6.5 million and $6.9 million, the average of the 25 highest-paid players at the position, with the top three excluded. Once the Ravens exercised the option, Smith's fifth-year pay in 2015 is guaranteed for injury. If he’s on the roster at the beginning of the 2015 league year, it’s fully guaranteed.

The Ravens would like to reach an extension with Smith because he's young (he turns 26 in July) and he's going to be hitting the prime years of his career soon. There's an added incentive to reduce that $6 million-plus cap number, but the Ravens have dealt with bigger financial burdens (Lardarius Webb's cap number is $10.5 million this season).

Jimmy Smith, though, isn't the Ravens' priority when it comes to extensions. Wide receiver Torrey Smith is entering the final year of his contract, so he's currently first on the pecking order.

The Ravens ideally would like to sign Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith both to long-term deals this year. If they can't sign either one, the Ravens know they can keep both around for the 2015 season if they use the franchise tag on Torrey Smith and let Jimmy Smith play out his option year.

This is an enviable situation for the Ravens to have. No one would've envisioned the Ravens picking up this option during the 2012 season, when Jimmy Smith couldn't beat out Cary Williams or Corey Graham for a starting job. Then, in two critical end zone plays against the San Francisco 49ers, Smith helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl and turned around his career in the process.
With 21 days until the NFL draft begins, here is another potential draft prospect for the Baltimore Ravens:

MIKE EVANS

Position: Wide receiver

School: Texas A&M

Height/weight: 6-foot-4, 231

Round projection: First

File this away: Evans averaged 13.4 yards per target last season, best among wide receivers with at least 40 targets.

Good: Evans is the consensus No. 2 wide receiver in this draft behind Clemson's Sammy Watkins and has the tools to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. He's an extremely physical receiver who uses his size and strength to simply bully defenders and beat defenders on jump balls. Evans is a productive playmaker, averaging 20 yards per catch last season. He has no fear going over the middle and is a terror to bring down after the catch. Evans takes pride in his blocking.

Bad: His temper got him in trouble on the field and raised questions about his maturity. Evans drew two personal fouls in Texas A&M's bowl game last season. He needs to develop as a route-runner and can be slow getting out of his breaks. Evans doesn't have elite speed and struggles to get separation deep downfield.

Bottom line: Evans was a popular pick for the Ravens in the earlier mock drafts, but it's highly unlikely he slips to the Ravens at No. 17 now. It looks like Evans will be taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 7. Other potential landing spots are the Buffalo Bills (No. 9), Detroit Lions (No. 10), New York Giants (No. 12) or St. Louis Rams (No. 13). If Evans and Watkins are taken in the top half of the first round, as expected, it would be a reach for the Ravens to take another wide receiver at No. 17.

What Evans said: "You know, I get a lot of Vincent Jackson comparisons, and that's a great comparison. But I think Brandon Marshall. He's vicious after the catch. He's a big, physical guy who can go up and get it. So, I've modeled my game after him since high school."
Alex Mack's contract is a big win for the Cleveland Browns (insert "thank Jacksonville" crack here).

That's the word from an NFL Insider familiar with the workings of NFL contracts, a wise individual with no agenda who noticed Wednesday's post on Mack's contract that detailed the Browns can get out of the deal after three years, which the insider said is one year too late.

“The Browns can let him go after two years if they want,” said wise individual said. “There's nothing stopping them.”

[+] EnlargeAlex Mack
Ken Blaze/USA TODAY SportsCenter Alex Mack will make $18 million guaranteed in the first two years of his new deal.
Why would the Browns do that? They wouldn't if Mack is healthy and playing well and they can afford him. But if he's slipped at all and the team's cap situation is tighter, Mack would be 30 and he'd have given the Browns seven good years.

At that point, the wise and unbiased individual said, it may be a good time to force a pay cut or cut ties.

Mack played his first five years on a rookie deal that paid him a reported $14.6 million, or an average of $2.92 million. The first two years of this new deal will pay him $10 million and $8 million guaranteed, which the wise individual said is way too high for a center.

But it means Mack will make $4.6 million per year for seven years, which the wise individual described as good for a center from a team standpoint.

Especially a Pro Bowl center.

Mack does have an injury protection guarantee for the third year, meaning if he's hurt in the second year and can't pass a physical for 2016 he is paid the $8 million.

But Mack has been healthy, so when the third year of the deal rolls around it may well come down to another negotiation. Mack may wish to stay in Cleveland, the Browns may wish to give him a pay cut. Mack may balk, or he may feel so good about the team at that point he may go along. The flip side is true as well; Mack may be playing so well the Browns may accept another year at $8 million. And Mack himself can void the final three years if he chooses to do so.

Bottom line: There will be another negotiation after the 2015 season.

The decision becomes the team's completely in the final two years, with roster bonuses of $2 million prior to 2017 and '18.

The Browns assured themselves of keeping Mack until he's 30, and Mack will become a wealthy young man.

But, as this insider said, it's a clear win for the Browns.
The Pittsburgh Steelers usually draft so logically and sensibly that predicting the position and player they take is not that huge of a challenge.

This draft is no different. Pittsburgh, coming off consecutive 8-8 seasons, could use a receiver, a defensive lineman or a cornerback. Any would make sense.


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The NFL draft is exactly three weeks away. When the Cincinnati Bengals make their first pick, they'll do so late in the first round at No. 24 overall.

They have needs at cornerback, quarterback, outside linebacker, safety, defensive end and on the offensive line. They also could add a running back or receiver at some point during the draft. Just whom will they wind up selecting with their picks in the first two rounds? ESPN's Mel Kiper has made his predictions. His second-round pick is a player who once had a first-round projection.


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In Mel Kiper Jr.'s previous three mock drafts, he had the Baltimore Ravens going offense in the first round. He had the Ravens picking North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron in his first two mock drafts, and he went with Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks in his third one.

Kiper's latest mock draft is out on ESPN Insider on Thursday, Insider and he has the Ravens taking a defensive player with the No. 17 overall pick.


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The three top quarterbacks are all on the board for the Cleveland Browns when they make their first first-round selection in ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper’s Jr. Mock Draft 4.0 Insider.

It’s no surprise Kiper has the Browns taking one at that spot. Everyone and their cousin seems to believe the Browns absolutely have to have a quarterback with the No. 4 pick.


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The Baltimore Ravens were unable to reach an extension with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata despite offering a "lucrative, long-term" deal, according to the NFL Network. The Ravens are looking to reduce Ngata's $16 million cap number, which is the highest on the team and the second-highest for any NFL defensive tackle (only Ndamukong Suh's $22.4 million cap hit is higher).

Ngata
Is Ngata a bad teammate for not helping out the Ravens? Does this mean Ngata doesn't want to retire a Raven like Terrell Suggs?

No, on both accounts. There's really no incentive for Ngata to agree to an extension this year. He is going to make $8.5 million in salary this season, and he knows the Ravens are going to have to pay him. The Ravens would only gain $1 million in salary cap space if they cut Ngata and would carry $15 million in dead money on this year's cap. In other words, the Ravens have no leverage and Ngata is making the smart business decision.

Ngata's inflated cap number has become a hot topic since Suggs signed his extension in February. But the contract situations with Ngata and Suggs are different. Suggs was entering the final year of his contract, and the Ravens would've created $7.8 million in cap space if they released him. In this instance, Suggs decided the Ravens' extension offer was better than any deal he would get elsewhere if he became a free agent.

Ngata could face a similar scenario next offseason when he is headed into the final year of his contract. He's scheduled to make $8.5 million again, but this time, the Ravens can free up $8.5 million in cap space if they cut the five-time Pro Bowl lineman. The Ravens now have some power in negotiations. Just like Suggs did this year, Ngata may have to determine whether he can make more as free agent than what the Ravens are offering.

The market may have been set this offseason for Ngata, who turns 31 next season. Based on the deals recently signed by Atlanta's Paul Soliai and Washington's Jason Hatcher -- two interior linemen in their early 30s -- Ngata can expect a deal that averages a little less than $7 million per season and includes around $11 million in guaranteed money if he became a free agent.

So, no one should count on an extension for Ngata this offseason. But no one should jump to conclusions about Ngata's future either. The Ravens and Ngata still have another year before tough decisions have to be made.
Kevin CostnerDale Robinette/Summit EntertainmentIn portraying the Cleveland Browns' general manager, Kevin Costner's Sonny Weaver Jr. is obsessed with pleasing the fans above all.
Fair warning: Spoiler alert.

The most cutting reviews of "Draft Day" suggested it was nothing more than a big-screen NFL infomercial, a modern-day NFL Films-like effort to glorify and dramatize what is now a $10 billion industry. That interpretation piqued my interest in ways that a movie about draft trades and team building did not.

So as I plunked down my $5.50 this week -- no free screenings for this hack -- I wanted to know: How does the NFL see itself? Or at least, what would the NFL look like if it could leverage its own portrayal?

After all, the NFL received a rights fee and a percentage of revenues for allowing its logos and team names to be used in the film, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell. It also exerted editorial control in at least one instance: Star Kevin Costner told reporters that the league nixed a scene in which angry fans hung a team official in effigy.

The league didn't write, direct or produce the film. In fact, director Ivan Reitman is the same guy who brought us "Animal House." Still, the NFL's cooperation and tacit approval was vital to the extent of the realism that its logos, access and cameos provided. The chief defender of the NFL shield, commissioner Roger Goodell, appears frequently.

Now then: What does an NFL-endorsed movie show us? Basically, a general manager who wants to please fans and players who aren't the character risks they might otherwise seem.

Costner’s Sonny Weaver Jr., the Browns’ fictitious general manager, wants nothing more than for the team to have a great draft because, as we hear a radio host intone, sports are all Cleveland has. Weaver’s goal is to lift up the city and its people with draft excitement. Any and all distractions must be set aside. Making good with his secret pregnant girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) must wait. Sorry. Spreading his father’s ashes must go on without him.

There is nothing subtle about the intent and motivation of high-ranking team officials in this movie. The fictitious Seattle Seahawks general manager, Tom Michaels (played by Patrick St. Esprit), is shaken when he sees fans protesting a trade outside his office window. Weaver leverages the presumed fear of fan rejection -- and the glory of their appreciation -- in several negotiations. Browns owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) is driven mostly by the adoration received in making a draft splash; ensuing profits are presumed but go unmentioned.

The rousing final scene of the movie, in fact, is set at the Browns' draft party. Molina, Weaver and the Browns' coach (Denis Leary's coach Penn) appear on stage with the team's top two draft picks. There is no greater reward, we sense, than making your fans happy.

None of the players in "Draft Day" are angels, of course, but the two selected by the Browns are overtly exonerated by circumstances. The malfeasance, we're shown, was not their fault.

One player's reputation as a hothead is debunked upon further review of game tape. At first glance, he appears to have thrown a ball into the stands, was subsequently penalized, and then ejected for bumping an official during a protest. We soon learn he had, in fact, simply handed the ball to his dying sister, excusing his subsequent tantrum, in Weaver's eyes. We then understand why this player spends draft morning driving his nephews to gymnastics practice.

The second player -- a running back portrayed by the Houston Texans' Arian Foster -- blurts in one of his first lines that he is not a gang member. He acknowledges he was involved in a violent fight, but we are strongly led to believe he didn't start it and that his hospitalized antagonist was an adult who should have known what he was getting into.

Meanwhile, the Browns pass on drafting a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback largely because he is too slick and his teammates don't appear to like him. Instead, they stick with an incumbent who has worked hard to improve his strength during the offseason and who is so passionate about winning that he trashes Weaver's office upon hearing rumors he might be replaced.

And that, we're told, is what the draft and playing football are all about. It's about team and sacrifice and heart and the whole being more important than the parts. It's why one of the great evils of "Draft Day" is trading away future draft choices. One player can't be better than three. (It's odd to hear this addressed most frequently by Leary's character, given how rarely NFL coaches worry about the state of the team two or three years hence.)

I can only presume this underlying theme explains why the impropriety of Weaver impregnating his salary-cap manager (Garner) is never addressed. They're both on the same team, right? They worked together to have a great draft, didn't they? What's the problem? (Fortunately, she tells Weaver repeatedly that she is not upset with his inattention.)

I'm no film critic, so this post isn't meant to tell you whether "Draft Day" was good or bad, or whether you should see it or not. I watched the movie through the lens of product portrayal. The movie tells us that the NFL draft is all about making fans happy, with players who aren't as bad as they're being made out to be and with a team concept that emphasizes the whole over the parts. (What it's not about: Medical issues of any kind. No injury histories and not a single doctor was invoked in this film.)

"Draft Day" comes at a time of great paradox in the industry. Its business has never been more prosperous, yet debate on its future remains fierce. How does that look when you can buy Hollywood influence? I can think of no better way to express the answer than through the lyrics of "Born to Rise," a little ditty featured in the closing credits that puts the best of "Rocky" training montages to shame:

What you know about standing up when the odds get stacked?
Time stands still, ain't no turning back
When everything you're worth is under attack
What you know about heart? What you know about that?
Write it off as criminal, a place to cast a stone
On and on we carry on when one is not enough.

CINCINNATI -- Andy Dalton is standing at a career crossroads. This could be a make or break year for him.

OK, maybe "break" isn't quite the word to use here. For the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, it's more like this could wind up being a make or keep middling type of year.

If he keeps playing like he has so far in his three-year career -- good, but occasionally bad in the regular season and overwhelmingly awful in the postseason -- then he'll continue to be regarded as a so-so quarterback who never really hit his stride, nor turned into an easily identifiable bust. He'd continue to be average -- a lukewarm signal-caller on a team with white-hot talent.

[+] EnlargeAndy Dalton
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesAndy Dalton has yet to make the jump from average to elite as an NFL quarterback.
Another season of such mediocrity would be considered worthy of the title "break." So what then would a "make" year look like for Dalton? Chiefly, leading the Bengals to a playoff win or two. Secondarily, keeping his interception numbers in career-low territory while also surpassing his franchise-record 33-touchdown total from a year ago. If he does both those things -- win in the postseason and have a favorable touchdown-interception ratio -- he'll have traveled down the right road in the junction he's facing.

If you ask some experts, there is no chance Dalton takes that avenue to success during this pivotal fourth season.

"He is what he is, and he will never change," ESPN insider scout Matt Williamson said in fellow ESPN insider Mike Sando's story Wednesday about forecasting success for quarterbacks at a crossroads. Insider "He will be too good to cut and not good enough to win with. He wins three or four [games] a year for his team and loses one or two, but he is so much less gifted than all the other guys we are talking about here. Maybe if he was playing indoors, he could get away with it more."

Sando's story is the basis for this blog. He focused on using metrics (mainly QBR) to determine where young quarterbacks rank among their peers, and how those metrics could predict where their careers might head. Sando compared the QBR numbers from the first 16 career games of quarterbacks who entered the league after 2006.

He found that the QBR numbers from those first 16 games correlated to three tiers of "crossroads quarterbacks." There's an elite tier, which had first 16-game QBRs that were higher than 65.2. Then there's a middle group with first 16-game QBRs between 60.1 and 42.0. A lagging group had QBRs that only got as high as 40.3. The seven-man "QBR-elite" group featured three players who appeared in recent Super Bowls. The middle group had a sizable mix of young quarterbacks and veterans, with only one having appeared in a recent Super Bowl. The final group had several players who were drafted after 2006, and who are no longer in football.

The better the QBRs were, the more promising the quarterback's career should be, it appears.

That, of course, becomes a tricky subject matter with Dalton. He is one of the few players who was forced to play from Week 1 of his rookie year. He hasn't looked back since, starting all 48 regular-season and three playoff games the Bengals have appeared in since 2011. Other quarterbacks might not even appear in a game their first two seasons. Coupled with his middle-of-the-road play the first three years, the fact he has played so much early makes it tough to forecast Dalton's career.

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Back to Williamson's comment on Dalton playing indoors. Dalton has struggled at times during games played in December and January. While he's still 0-3 in the postseason in January, he did change his December woes in 2013. After tossing a combined eight touchdowns, getting sacked a combined 27 times and compiling a 41.5 QBR through his first two Decembers, Dalton had 12 touchdowns, a 71.1 QBR and was sacked only three times last December. The effort was good enough to post a 4-1 record across the final month of the season.

Perhaps he's starting to turn a corner.

The thing is, as Dalton flirts with a contract extension this offseason before his rookie deal expires next March, he needs to do more than turn that corner. He has to turn it, run -- not walk -- down the block to the next one and the one after, and keep going until he reaches the Super Bowl. He has the receivers, tight ends, offensive line, dynamic running back and talented defense to make a deep postseason trip a possibility sometime soon.

He also has had each of those, but the combination has yet to yield a run past the wild-card round of the playoffs. Is Dalton the common denominator behind Cincinnati's postseason misfortunes? Bengals coach Marvin Lewis doesn't necessarily think so, but his quarterback's six interceptions and one touchdown pass in those three playoff games are hard to overlook.

Maybe having an offensive coordinator who is more dedicated to the run than the previous one will help Dalton. Hue Jackson's ground-game tweaks ought to ease the pressure off the quarterback's shoulders.

A looser Dalton would make the Bengals a better team. A more decisive Dalton would make him a better player.

But on-field decisions aren't the only ones he has to make right now. Soon we'll find out which path Dalton chose to take in this all-important make or break year at the crossroads.
It has been widely and accurately reported that Alex Mack can void the final three years of his contract and become a free agent after two seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

Mack
But the Browns also can escape either of the final two years of his deal. So both sides have some leverage.

A close look shows that the Jacksonville Jaguars really gave the Browns little to consider about matching the offer. It pays Mack well for two years, but it has no signing bonus, and though Mack can leave after two years -- he'll be 30 at that point -- the team can also let him go after three and thus not pay the final two.

Mack did receive fully guaranteed salaries of $10 million and $8 million in 2014 and 2015, according to ESPN’s Roster Management System.

He then can choose to stay or become a free agent again. What does he want to see these next two years that would keep him a Brown? Wins, he said.

If he stays, the third-year salary of $8 million is also fully guaranteed, which means he’d receive $26 million guaranteed.

After that, though, it’s up to the team.

Mack is due a $2 million roster bonus in the offseason before 2016, and another $2 million before 2017.

If the Browns pay either roster bonus, they keep Mack and also pay him a $6 million salary, a relative pittance if they feel Mack’s play warrants the roster bonus. That makes his salary-cap cost in both seasons $8 million.

But if they choose not to pay the bonus, the final two years or year would be wiped out and Mack would then become a free agent.

So Mack’s deal could be five years, it could be three or four at the team’s discretion, or it could be two years at his.

Total value of the deal if he stays all five years with the Browns: $42 million.

Bengals sign punter T.J. Conley

April, 16, 2014
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CINCINNATI -- On the same day they announced the start date of their training camp, the Cincinnati Bengals signed a special-teams player whose primary function will be to give them an additional training camp leg.

Punter T.J. Conley, formerly of the Browns and Jets, was signed Wednesday by the Bengals to serve as a backup to starting punter Kevin Huber, who ought to be fully recovered by late July from a December jaw injury. Huber missed the final two games of the regular season and a playoff game after breaking his jaw following a hard blindside hit from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Terence Garvin.

Conley comes to the Bengals after having spent the 2013 preseason with the Browns. He didn't make the team once the regular season started.

The 28-year-old last appeared in a regular-season game in 2011. He punted in all 16 games for the Jets that year, averaging 42.7 yards on 92 punts. His 38.8-yard net average was the highest in Jets history; the statistic was first tracked in 1976. He also had 32 kicks that fell inside the 20 and six touchbacks. Like he did with the Browns last season, Conley started the 2012 season with the Jets, but didn't make the main club by the regular season.

He entered the NFL with the Jets in 2009 as a free agent.

In an attempt to save their punters' and kickers' legs in the preseason, teams often sign multiple punters and kickers to help with the load. Conley will get some experience backing up Huber, just as kicker/punter Quinn Sharp ought to do the same behind kicker Mike Nugent. Sharp was signed to a future's contract at the end of the 2013 season.

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