Kyle Rudolph confirmed he has been offered a five-year contract extension by the Minnesota Vikings.

Rudolph is set to earn $7.5million this season in the final year of his current contract and the two-time NFL Pro Bowler is unwilling to take a pay cut.

When the Vikings picked tight end Irv Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft last month, there was immediate speculation that Rudolph would be on the trading block.

Those rumours intensified after contract talks broke down, and Rudolph told the Minneapolis Star Tribune there was "no way" he would take a pay cut to stay in Minnesota.

Pro Football Talk reported, and Rudolph confirmed, that the Vikings have offered the 29-year-old a contract extension.

According to ESPN, the contract would make Rudolph among the highest paid tight ends in the NFL.

"That's what they're working at," Rudolph told ESPN. "We're in a tough situation. Everybody knows that.

"That's why we have the best salary-cap guy in the NFL and I believe I have one of the best agents. So, like I said, they're working really hard.''

Despite the rumours swirling about his future, Rudolph has participated in all voluntary offseason team activities, including the second day of organised team activities on Wednesday.

"I don't know what kind of example it would set if I wanted to be here and I wasn't here," Rudolph said. "And that's not the kind of person I am. If I was at home right now and everybody else was out here at practice, that would be really hard for me."

Rudolph had 64 catches for 634 yards and four touchdowns last season.

 

Cleveland finally got the call for the NFL Draft, while Kansas City will also host the event in the coming years.

The NFL announced on Wednesday that Cleveland will hold the 86th Draft in 2021, while Kansas City will get their turn two years later. A site has not been set for 2022.

Both cities had been finalists to host in 2020 before the honour went to Las Vegas ahead of the Raiders' first season in their new city.

"Cleveland has a passionate fan base and the city offers distinctive iconic locations and attractions that will bring the NFL Draft experience to fans in unique and exciting ways," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.

"We look forward to collaborating with the Cleveland Browns, the City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland to celebrate the achievements of the next generation of players and create a memorable fan experience.

"We are excited to work with the Kansas City Chiefs, the City of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Sports Commission to showcase the area for a week-long celebration of football that will be watched by millions of fans.

"We know Chiefs fans will come out to celebrate along with thousands of fans from teams around the country for an incredible experience as we welcome the next generation of NFL players."

A record-breaking 600,000 people visited Nashville to attend the 2019 Draft last month, while an average of 6.1 million viewers were tuned in at any given time for another all-time high.

Aaron Rodgers might have had a cameo in the final season of Game of Thrones, but the Green Bay Packers quarterback was less than impressed with how the hit television series concluded.

The hugely popular fantasy drama aired for the final time on Sunday and the polarising ending left many fans underwhelmed, including NFL star Rodgers.

He featured as an extra in the penultimate episode and offered a passionate response to reporters when asked whether he was pleased that Bran Stark was chosen to reign over the six kingdoms.

"No," Rodgers bluntly replied.

"I love the show and it was a great 10 years but no.

"You come down to the end and Tyrion says, 'The person with the best story is Bran'. Who, by the way, three episodes ago said he wasn't Bran Stark any more...no.

"Jon had a better story, Dany had a better story, Arya had a better story, Sansa had a better story, Tyrion had a better story, Varys had a better story. Bronn, lot better story. Jaime, better story. Cersei, probably a better story. Any Baratheon, better story."

While good might have trumped evil at the end, Rodgers added he wanted to see Daenerys Targaryen on the throne despite the blood-thirsty Mother of Dragons turning into the Mad Queen.

The Game of Thrones writers have faced fierce criticism for rushing the conclusion and a petition to remake the final season "with competent writers" has over 1.4 million signatures.

Rodgers suggested David Benioff and D.B. Weiss may have been distracted by their work with one of the upcoming Star Wars films.

"I loved the opportunity to be in the show - which, most people probably don't think I was, but I was there - I love the show but the writers were also doing Star Wars...so I think they might have been a bit busy this last season," Rodgers added.

There has been much debate about Rodgers' cameo in episode five and he said it was "true" that he was in a bell tower scene.

However, the Packers quarterback dispelled the notion that he was one of the characters that got burned alive.

"I'm disappointed in every person who would actually say that was me," he revealed.

"If you actually watch that person run, they're a total non-athlete!"

Nick Bosa, the second overall pick in the NFL Draft, tweaked his hamstring in practice for the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday.

Coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed the injury occurred during one-on-one drills. While Bosa did not leave the field, he did not finish practice and walked with a limp following the incident.

"I know it was his hamstring, but I'm not sure of the severity of it," Shanahan said after practice concluded.

The former Ohio State defensive end entered 2018-19 as one of the top prospects in the country, but was sidelined with a core injury after playing just three games in his junior season. 

Bosa underwent core muscle surgery following the injury and elected to withdraw from school following the operation to prepare for the draft rather than finish the season with the Buckeyes.

Bosa posted 17.5 career sacks in 29 games at Ohio State and will be crucial to the 49ers improving upon last season's 4-12 finish.

Shanahan also confirmed running back Matt Breida suffered a slightly torn pectoral lifting weights and will be sidelined until training camp.

His fellow running back Jerick McKinnon is still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered before the end of last season. When all are healthy the Niners should have a deep backfield, having signed Tevin Coleman to a two-year deal in free agency.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, whose September ACL tear derailed the 49ers' 2018 hopes, will remain restricted to seven-on-seven drills until training camp.

"Jimmy was threading it," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "He got the ball right where he wanted to.

"Obviously, he's been limited in the things that he can do, but he had a lot of reps, and he looked really good.

"He was putting the ball in some risky spots, where it seemed risky. It was real confident throws. He completed every single one of them."

Green Bay will have a new offense in 2019 and Aaron Rodgers is still trying to figure it out.

The Packers quarterback said on Tuesday the new formations are "different", but he was confident he can figure it out in the coming months.

"I've got to be honest, I don't know the whole offense yet," Rodgers told a news conference.

"I've been studying it but the difference between understanding it on paper and actually getting reps in it – the minicamp, those two days, and then the two days [of practice] that we've had so far is not a great sample size to tell you everything about the offense.

"It's going to be different. It's going to look different formationally and the motions and some of the things that we're doing. But I think it's an offense that I can infuse creativity and put my stamp on."

Green Bay brought in former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur after they fired Mike McCarthy last season. McCarthy had coached Rodgers since his rookie season in 2005.

LaFleur wants to be as hands on as possible to help his quarterbacks learn a new system.

"That's the approach that we're going to take right now," LaFleur said.

"It's hard for me to think too far in advance, but I just think that's what's the most beneficial at this stage."

LaFleur has also spent time with the Los Angeles Rams, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons. He will call the plays for the Packers from day one.

Needless to say, Rodgers will likely need plenty of repetitions to warm up and make adjustments.

The two-time MVP has played limited preseason snaps in recent years, but acknowledged that could be subject to change soon.

"I think this is a year where I'm probably going to play more than 20 [preseason] snaps, I would assume," Rodgers said.

Rodgers struggled with a knee injury for the majority of last season, but he still threw for 4,442 yards and 25 touchdowns. However, the Packers finished the year 6-9-1 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

The Buffalo Bills' have assigned their number 32 jersey to a player for the first time since O.J. Simpson wore it 42 years ago.

Running back Senorise Perry will wear the number once donned by Simpson, who played in Buffalo from 1969 until 1977, earning four rushing titles and becoming the first man to rush for more than 2,000 yards.

While the number was never officially retired by the Bills, the scandals attached to Simpson's name meant the Bills did not give it out to players that followed.

Simpson was acquitted of the double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1995. However, he was found liable for their deaths in a civil suit filed by their families.

In 2007 Simpson was arrested on felony armed robbery and kidnapping charges in Las Vegas. He was convicted of both charges in 2008 and served nine years in prison. He was released in October last year.

"Whatever they do is fine with me," Simpson, 71, told The Athletic of Perry taking his jersey.

"That's how I feel. When I played there, I tried to honour the team. Since I left, I always tried to honour the Bills.

"And, to be honest, it's not something I think about. There's too much else going on in life."

Perry, who spent the last two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, accepted wearing the number would bring extra attention but did not hesitate to pick it.

"I know the situation. I know that greatness comes with that number, playing in Buffalo. But I'm willing to take anything that comes my way," he said.

"I'm going into my sixth year, and I know what it takes to get in this league and stay here. With that number on my back, I know I'm doing well for my family.

"On one hand, wearing the number of a Hall of Famer creates a high expectation. I thought it was retired, but then I was told it was available. Boom, I took it."

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will be a "full participant" in organised team activities (OTAs), the NFC East team announced on Tuesday.

Last week head coach Doug Pederson was non-committal about whether Wentz would be ready for OTAs, but on Tuesday he said his quarterback should be good to go.

"Carson has no limitations," Pederson said. "He's been working with the guys all offseason and we're looking forward to these next 10 practices with him.

"I'm not going to hold him back."

Wentz, 26, suffered a stress fracture in his back last season, keeping him out of the final three games in 2018 and all of the playoffs. Wentz was expected to be out for three months, but that timetable was extended.

He was also absent for the first two games of 2018 as he recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that caused him to miss the end of the 2017 regular season and all of that postseason, as well, including the Eagles' Super Bowl LII win over the New England Patriots.

The second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Wentz's only fully healthy season was his rookie year, when he threw for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.

Before the back injury in 2018, Wentz threw for 3,074 yards and 21 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 11 games.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released defensive tackle and six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy after nine NFL seasons.

Tampa Bay decided not to pay McCoy the $13million he was due for the upcoming season, it was announced on Monday.

It is another hit to the Buccaneers defense, who may be without sack leader Jason Pierre-Paul after he was injured in a car accident in May.

"These decisions are very difficult, personally and professionally," general manager Jason Licht said via the team's official website. "Over the past nine years, Gerald has been a cornerstone of this franchise and a leader in our community.

"Parting ways with a player and person such as Gerald is one of the toughest responsibilities of this job."

McCoy was selected by Tampa Bay as the third overall pick in the 2010 draft. The 31-year-old was First-Team All-Pro in 2013. 

"I know Gerald has done a lot of good things on and off the football field in Tampa during his time here," head coach Bruce Arians said. "You hate to see good football players go, but this is a decision that we felt needed to be made in order to allow us, and Gerald, the ability to move forward. Gerald is a class-act and I wish him the best.”  "

McCoy leaves the Buccaneers with 54.5 career sacks, 22 passes defended and 296 total tackles, including 140 quarterback hits.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger apologised for his criticism of former team-mate Antonio Brown.

Roethlisberger – a two-time Super Bowl champion – criticised Brown's route running after a Week 12 loss to the Denver Broncos during the NFL last season.

Brown was eventually traded to the Oakland Raiders in the offseason and Roethlisberger discussed his comments on Monday.

"I took some heat and deservedly so for some of the comments on that show and especially towards him," Roethlisberger told Pittsburgh radio station KDKA about Brown.

"I genuinely feel bad about that and I'm sorry. Did I go too far after that Denver game? Probably."

Brown was reportedly unhappy about Roethlisberger's criticism and he eventually requested the Steelers move him in mid-February.

The wide receiver was then sent to Oakland about one month later in exchange for two draft picks.

Roethlisberger and Brown played together in Pittsburgh from 2010-18.

"That's the thing about media and social media, as soon as you say 'sorry' it only goes so far," Roethlisberger said. "You can't take it back. And I wish I could because if that's what ruined our friendship and relationship, I'm truly, genuinely sorry about that."

Brown – a seven-time Pro Bowl player – finished with 1,297 receiving yards and 15 touchdown catches in 15 games for the Steelers last season. He has scored 74 times in 130 career games.

"I bring accountability," Brown said at his introductory press conference in Oakland in March. "I bring actions. Not what I say, what I do. How I approach things. Holding guys accountable in the receiver room.

"Pittsburgh will always be my family. Those guys gave me a chance when I was a 21-year-old kid. Obviously, people listen to the things that were being said and written, but at the end of the day, it's all about how you make people feel."

Roethlisberger, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $68million extension with the Steelers in the offseason.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long announced his retirement on Saturday.

The number two overall pick in the 2008 draft finished as a two-time Super Bowl champion.

Long, 34, announced on Twitter he was retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL with the Eagles, New England Patriots and the then-St Louis Rams.

"Cheers. Been a hell of a journey," Long wrote.

"Eleven years and I can honestly say I put my soul into every minute of it. Highs and lows. I've seen them both and I appreciate the perspective. Gratitude and love to those who lifted me up."

Long won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2018 as a nod to his work in the community and in charitable causes.

His brother Kyle still plays for the Chicago Bears on the offensive line and his father, Howie, was an eight-time Pro Bowl player and Pro Football Hall of Famer.

Ezekiel Elliott is not concerned about a reduced workload or his contract status, even though the Dallas Cowboys have indicated there is no set timetable over a new deal.

The running back helped the Cowboys win the NFC East last season, as well as beating the Seattle Seahawks in the opening round of the playoffs.

He rushed for 1,434 yards on 304 carries and caught a career-high 77 passes in 2018, touching the ball on more than 35 percent of the Cowboys' offensive snaps despite being rested for the final week of the regular season.

However, Dallas are keen to make sure Elliott does not have to carry too much of the offensive burden again.

"It's just physics," running backs coach Gary Brown said last week at rookie minicamp. "Year after year with that type of workload, eventually anyone's going to slow down. We're trying to pre-empt that and take care of him now."

When asked about the team's plan, Elliott replied to the Dallas Morning News: "I haven't worn down yet."

The Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option of the 23-year-old's rookie contract last month, though executive vice president Stephen Jones said last week that Elliott is "a guy we want to have here long term".

"The only reason you say, well maybe he's not at the front [of the extension order] is because he's got this year, then he's got another year on his tender. But Zeke's every bit as important," Jones added.

Elliott, though, is only focused on what happens on the field, rather than negotiations off it.

"I'm not concerned. [I] just go out there and play football, do what I've been doing," he said.

Dak Prescott never wants to leave the Dallas Cowboys.

The 25-year-old quarterback, who is entering the final season of his four-year rookie contract, has spent his entire career in Dallas.

He told reporters on Wednesday he hopes he retires with the team that took him in the fourth round of the 2016 draft.

"I mean, I want to be a Cowboy forever," Prescott said, via ESPN.

"I think the people that are doing the deal feel the same way, so to me, it's no rush. I know it will get done."

Prescott, a two-time Pro Bowl player, has completed 66.1 per cent of his passes and thrown for 67 touchdowns, along with 25 interceptions, in his career.

The Cowboys have a 32-16 record in his starts and have made the postseason twice in his three NFL seasons.

Prescott has a chance to sign the largest contract in franchise history.

"It's all generational money, life-changing money, so it's just a blessing to be able to be in this position," Prescott said.

"But as far as the numbers are concerned, my focus is on the locker room, and that will all take care of itself."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said earlier this month he was confident the team will get a deal done with Prescott.

The Cowboys finished 2018 with a 10-6 record and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs, where they fell to the Los Angeles Rams.

Josh Rosen revealed he has still not heard anything from Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim since the NFL draft and his subsequent trade.

The new Miami Dolphins quarterback is waiting for some closure, having not had contact from Keim since before Arizona selected Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in last month's draft.

Rosen said it was Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury who broke the news about selecting Murray one year after he was picked as an apparent franchise QB at number 10 overall. 

He was moved to the Dolphins a day later in exchange for the 62nd pick and a 2020 selection.

"The only thing that really did kind of frustrate me through this whole process was like I still haven't heard from my old GM," Rosen said on the Rich Eisen Show. 

"I hadn't talked to him for months before. Still haven't talked to him after. That was kind of frustrating, but for the most part, I'm just ready to put that whole chapter behind me and keep pushing on and playing football.

"My agent gave me a call about five minutes before saying, 'Don't be surprised if this might happen'. 

"I was like, 'Alright, it is what it is, we'll see how the cards end up falling. But you know I'm going to compete wherever I am'." 

He added: "So Kliff gave me an actual call a minute before it happened saying that we're going to draft Kyler. I mean, I have the most respect for Kliff. I don't slight anyone for making business decisions they think are best for them and their family, but I appreciated how he acted like a man and was very respectful. 

"He was wishing me the best. He called me even the day after the draft wishing me good luck. And I wished him good luck. I even gave Kyler a call, sent him a text that said, 'Good luck, I'm wishing you the best'. 

"But that's kind of all you can really ask for in this game. People make decisions for whatever reason. But as long as they are men about it and they respect someone's career, then I can appreciate that.

"Literally [Kingsbury is] like, 'Hey, so we're about to draft Kyler. I don't really know what happens now.

"And I responded, 'I don't really know what happens either'. But regardless, at least he gave me the courtesy of giving me the call. I love everyone in that building, with the exception of maybe one or two guys there.

"I had an awesome time. I'm bummed to move on, but I'm excited. And it's been an interesting ride, but I think it just makes the story a little bit better."

The New York Jets have fired general manager Mike Maccagnan in a shock move and promoted head coach Adam Gase to serve in the role on an interim basis.

In an announcement on Wednesday, the Jets said they would start looking for a new GM immediately, with reports suggesting the Philadelphia Eagles executive Joe Douglas is an early candidate, given his close relationship with Gase.

Maccagnan, who had two years left on his contract and served in the role since January 2015, was instrumental in the team drafting quarterback Sam Darnold last year and was part of the group involved in hiring former Miami Dolphins coach Gase in January after Todd Bowles was fired.

As well as Darnold, he also made impressive draft picks in Leonard Williams and Jamal Adams, while he selected Quinnen Williams at number three overall this year to complement a free-agency haul that included the addition of Le'Veon Bell.

However, he also picked QB Christian Hackenberg, who is no longer in the league, in the second round of the 2016 draft, and was also responsible for Bowles' hiring. The team did not reach the playoffs during his tenure.

Brian Heimerdinger, who previously worked with Maccagnan in the Houston Texans front office and had been with the Jets for just one season as the VP of player personnel, has also reportedly been fired.

Reports of a rift between Maccagnan and Gase around the draft period had previously been emphatically denied by both men, including as recently as last week.

"Mike helped to execute the strategic vision of the organisation during the last four seasons and especially the past few months," chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. 

"However, I came to the decision to make a change after much thought and a careful assessment of what would be in the best long-term interests of the New York Jets.

"I will start a search for our new general manager immediately. In the interim, Coach Gase will be the acting general manager. I would like to thank Mike for his time and efforts during his tenure, and I wish only the best for him and his wife Betty."

The disappointing career of EJ Manuel has come to and after he retired from the NFL.

The No. 16 overall pick from the 2013 draft by the Buffalo Bills has quit just three months after he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs to back up Patrick Mahomes.

Manuel started 17 games over four seasons with Buffalo before signing with the Oakland Raiders prior to the 2017 season to back up Derek Carr.

His run in Oakland lasted only one season as he was cut before the next year following the team's acquisition of AJ McCarron.

If this is truly the end for Manuel's NFL career, his final numbers include 30 games played with 18 starts, 343 of 590 passes completed for 3,767 yards, 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Manuel’s retirement is just the latest development for a brutal 2013 class of quarterbacks. None of the 11 QBs drafted are currently NFL starters, while the majority are out of the league.

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