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Mike Holmgren leaving Browns uncertain of future

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Mike Holmgren leaving Browns uncertain of future

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Mike Holmgren's run as a team president is over, ending prematurely and before he planned.

For weeks, he has hung around Cleveland's offices doing what he could to help new owner Jimmy Haslam. Holmgren attended meetings, practices and games. He talked with players, coaches and consulted with his replacement, CEO Joe Banner, now in charge of running the Browns.

Holmgren made his pitch for the team to keep coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert beyond this season.

And now, there's nothing left. It's time for Holmgren to move on to the next phase of his life, which may or may not include another foray as an NFL coach.

Last week, he knew his work was finished.

``I was done,'' he said. ``I already passed the baton.''

Less than three years after signing a five-year contract with former owner Randy Lerner to fix Cleveland's franchise, Holmgren is leaving. His final day with the Browns will be Friday, and after that he and his wife, Kathy, will return to their home in Arizona, where the 64-year-old will contemplate his future.

``We are going to fly to Phoenix on Saturday and catch my breath a little bit and take it easy and ride my motorcycle,'' Holmgren said. ``I honestly don't know if I'm going to go back to work immediately or not and I don't know if it's going to be in football.''

This was not the exit he envisioned.

Holmgren thought he would leave amid a playoff push or as Cleveland celebrated finally winning a Super Bowl title like the one he helped bring to Green Bay. But everything changed when Haslam bought the Browns for $1.05 billion and hired Banner, who built the Philadelphia Eagles into perennial contenders.

Holmgren was the odd-man out.

He stayed to assist Haslam and Banner with the transition, and while he got some things accomplished, it became obvious he was no longer needed.

The Browns went just 12-31 under Holmgren, but he's proud of restoring the business side of the Browns and an on-the-field turnaround that may not be evident for several more years.

As he walks away, Holmgren was asked if he feels somewhat unsatisfied.

``Any time you don't reach your goals in this business on one hand then, yeah,'' he said. ``Having said that, though, I really can feel good, and the guys who have been here can feel good about what the future holds. But time will tell.''

It wasn't until he left the sideline that Holmgren realized how much he missed coaching. He longed for the interaction with players, and the chance to teach. He still hasn't gotten comfortable watching games from the press box, and he's hinted that he might coach again - in the right situation.

After reports surfaced that he would be interested in coaching in Dallas if Jason Garrett was fired, Holmgren said he did not know where those rumors started. However, they gained more traction when he recently met owner Jerry Jones on the field before the Cowboys hosted the Browns.

Holmgren said he called Jones beforehand and they agreed it was OK to be seen together publicly.

``I phoned him and said if this caused any problem for anyone I apologize for that,'' Holmgren said. ``He said absolutely not. I said, `Listen, every time we play against each other, and it's been a number of times, we've always said hello and been cordial.' I said maybe this time I shouldn't do that if you rather I'd not do that. And he said, `If you don't come and see me' in typical fashion, if you know him. I said, `OK.' I talked to Stephen (Jones' son) before then Jerry came out. We talked about the stuff we always talk about - family and the Salvation Army.''

Holmgren, who last coached for Seattle in 2008, insists he isn't close to making a decision on a return to coaching.

``As of right now, I really haven't given it much thought other than the fact there are no plans right now,'' he said.

Banner said if Holmgren decided to coach, the Browns don't have any agreement where they would be compensated.

``Mike's free to do what he wants next in this field or whatever he'd like to do,'' he said.

Banner has spent time over the past few weeks meeting with Holmgren and has gotten a better handle on where the Browns are as an organization.

``He was just incredibly helpful and professional and supportive,'' Banner said. ``As you know, we were more than happy to have him stay. But as he said from the beginning that once he kind of made the difference he could, it would probably be time to leave. I'm really appreciative of the time we had together. I think it helped me. I learned a lot through it.''

During what he called ``brutally honest'' conversations with Banner, Holmgren gave strong endorsements not only for Shurmur and Heckert, but others working for the Browns. Before leaving, he wanted to make sure some of the people he had hired were given a fair chance to keep their jobs.

``All I could do is be honest and tell him what I thought,'' he said. ``We had to make a bunch of changes in our first year, too. And so, we talked about that. We talked about all that stuff and that was the transition period. And now all the talking is done and I said what I had to say and now we'll see happens at the end of the year.''

Holmgren exits the Browns with one regret - not winning enough.

He feels he did all he could, and although he thought he understood the city's passion for the Browns, it was only when he came here that he fully grasped it.

He's leaving, but some of him will stay in Cleveland. When he watches the Browns from now on, he'll do so with pride.

``When they do well, I'll feel good about that,'' he said. ``I'll feel good for the players and I'll feel good for the coaches and the organization and the people because I was here. I am very thankful that I got this opportunity to do this.''

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201