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Dolphins edge rusher Jaelan Phillips has been focused on rehabbing a torn Achilles this offseason and he gave an update on how things are going this weekend.

Phillips was injured during the team’s Black Friday win over the Jets and he took a break from his rehabilitation work to attend the University of Miami’s spring game over the weekend. Phillips did an interview with ESPN during the game and said that he’s on track to be back on the field come the fall.

“Rehab has been going great,” Phillips said, via Adam Stites of “I’m just attacking it every day and I’ll definitely be back healthy for the season and — God willing — stay healthy for the season.”

The Dolphins also have Bradley Chubb returning from a torn ACL and they recently signed Shaq Barrett to provide them with more depth as they wait for both players to make a full recovery from their injuries.

The Chiefs made it to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the last five seasons earlier this year, but their trip to the championship was a bit different than in previous years.

After facing the Bengals in two straight AFC title games, the Chiefs didn’t have to face Cincinnati at all this time around. Quarterback Joe Burrow’s wrist injury kept the Bengals from contending for a playoff spot and that meant the Chiefs didn’t have to deal with one of their thorniest foes en route to Las Vegas.

The Bengals kept the Chiefs from advancing to Super Bowl LVI and Burrow is 3-1 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs over the course of his career. Burrow touched on that record during an appearance on the New Heights podcast with Jason and Travis Kelce when he said that the Bengals are constructed with the task of beating the Chiefs in mind.

“I don’t know. I think we both work really hard. They have great players, we have great players,” Burrow said, via the team’s website. “I think we match up pretty well with them. I think we’re built to beat them. I always appreciate the legendary battles we have. Guys are out there always making plays. Patrick is always out there making plays. Both teams have big-time defensive lines. It’s a great matchup.”

The Chiefs are set to make a run at becoming the first team to win three straight Super Bowls during the 2024 season and they’ll have a home date with the Bengals on the schedule as part of that effort. If Burrow can beat them for the fourth time, it will improve the chances of another postseason meeting with the only AFC team that has had Kansas City’s number in recent years.

The Chiefs open their offseason program today, just days after receiver Rashee Rice turned himself in on eight felony charges arising from a Dallas street race that happened late last month.

To date, it’s still not clear whether and to what extent Rice will be present for Phase I.

The fact that the Chiefs will have a virtual Phase I makes the need for action a bit less urgent. It’s not as if he’ll be showing up at the facility, trying to carve a path through reporters shouting questions at him.

That said, if there are press availabilities from coach Andy Reid and/or select players, questions about Rice will be asked. The Chiefs surely know it, and they undoubtedly will have a plan for responding, even if it’s as simple as pointing out there’s a pending legal matter and they have no comment.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, per the Chiefs, has been throwing with Rice in Texas. (Scattered reports have emerged of other Chiefs players working with Mahomes.)

It remains to be seen whether the Chiefs or the NFL will decide to keep Rice away from the team while his criminal charges move forward. The eight felonies might just be a starting point; he has yet to be charged for leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries. That could eventually happen.

The most likely options include the league putting Rice on paid leave, the Chiefs and Rice agreeing that he’ll stay away from on-site work, or the Chiefs releasing him and moving on. (Toriano Porter of the Kansas City Star recently wrote that the team should terminate Rice’s contract.)

We know the drill by now when it comes to sports terms. Excuses are made for the stars and examples are made of the scrubs. Where does Rice land for the Chiefs?

The reality is that Rice has star potential that the team likely believes he is in the process of unlocking. He had 938 receiving yards in the regular season, along with 262 in the postseason. He was a second-round pick. They’d surely prefer to keep him.

Even if they do, they need to be prepared to not have him for all or part of the 2024 season, whether it’s because he’s on the Commissioner Exempt list (i.e., leave with pay) as the case proceeds or whether he’s suspended without pay if he pleads guilty to one or more charges in the coming months.

For the players, the primary goal of playing spring football is to get signed by an NFL team. One player in the United Football League has already guaranteed that he’ll be in an NFL training camp this summer: Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates.

Bates hit a 55-yard field goal in Sunday’s game, the fourth long field goal he’s made already in just three weeks of the UFL season. He previously made field goals of 64, 62 and 52 yards in the first two weeks of the season. Bates’ 55-yarder on Sunday would have been good from much further back; it was still several yards above the cross bar when it hit the net.

There’s little doubt that Bates will be kicking in the NFL this preseason, and the only question is whether he can show enough consistency to make a roster in the regular season. Bates played only sparingly as a kickoff specialist and never made a field goal in college, so there’s a very small sample size of field goal attempts for NFL teams to judge. But anyone who can make two field goals from the 50-59 range, and two more beyond 60, in just three games is sure to draw NFL interest.

In fact, Bates is already drawing NFL interest, so much that Panthers coach Mike Nolan complained that teams are violating league rules by contacting Bates while he remains under contract to the UFL. Bates is free to sign with an NFL team after the UFL season, but while the UFL season is ongoing, NFL teams would be violating NFL rules if they contacted Bates or his agent to express interest in signing him.

Once the UFL season is over, however, it’s safe to say Bates will have multiple contract offers from NFL teams.

George Kittle thinks the 49ers’ offensive continuity can help them be even better in 2024.

“Stay healthy, just continue to do our jobs, just try to get a little better every day,” Kittle said on ESPN. “Brock Purdy is a fantastic quarterback, and he’s only going to get better because he’s so young. And we were fortunate enough to keep our entire offense so far, which is very beneficial when your whole o-line stays together, everyone gets used to playing next to each other. So we’re optimistic our offense takes another step going forward.”

Kittle’s use of the words “so far,” however, is a reminder that things can change between now and the start of the season. And the biggest question is whether wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who is seemingly unhappy with his contract, will remain with the 49ers. Both 49ers General Manager John Lynch and Aiyuk’s agent have publicly indicated that things are going smoothly, but until Aiyuk has a new contract, it’s fair to wonder how much longer the 49ers can keep their entire offense together.

Kittle also noted that the 49ers retain the key defensive players from last year’s NFC champions.

“On the defensive side of the ball, when you have Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, [Javon] Hargrave, Charvarius Ward, we have a pretty good defense over there too,” Kittle said. “Hopefully we keep playing at a high level.”

Getting Aiyuk locked in for another season would be another reason for optimism in San Francisco.

With Ippei Mizuhara facing federal criminal charges, Major League Baseball is expected to find that Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani did nothing wrong.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, via Sports Business Journal, MLB “is expected to quickly interview, and clear Shohei Ohtani of any wrongdoing once the federal government’s investigation is complete.”

The federal investigation seems to be close to ending, given the lengthy and detailed affidavit filed against Mizuhara last week. The document paints Ohtani as a victim, exonerating him of any knowledge of or involvement with gambling.

Ohtani said on Friday (via SBJ) that he’s “ready to return to just focusing on baseball,” adding this: “I’m very grateful for the Department of Justice’s investigation. For me personally, this marks a break from this, and I’d like to focus on baseball.”

Mizuhara is accused of stealing more than $16 million from Ohtani. Federal investigators, after reviewing the phones of Mizuhara and Ohtani, found that there had been no digital discussions between them regarding gambling. (Of course, they could have been talking about the situation in person, or they could have used burner phones. The feds presumably thought about that, but didn’t find any reason to think Ohtani knew what was happening.)

The whole thing remains very strange. Mizuhara was close enough to steal millions, but Ohtani had no idea that Mizuhara was doing or what he was doing with the money.

The most curious paragraph in the affidavit continues to be the last one in the document: “On or about March 20, 2024, MIZUHARA messaged BOOKMAKER 1 stating, ‘Have you seen the reports?’ BOOKMAKER 1 responded, ‘Yes, but that’s all bullshit. Obviously you didn’t steal from him. I understand it’s a cover job I totally get it.’ MIZUHARA then responded to BOOKMAKER 1, ‘Technically I did steal from him. it’s all over for me.’”

The bookmaker called it a “cover job.” Mizuhara said “technically I did steal.” That one word — technically — stands out.

Mizuhara either stole or he didn’t. Technically invites speculation that it’s not as black and white as the feds are making it appear to be. If it’s all gray, it becomes harder for Ohtani to steer clear from it.

If this is anything other than someone being close enough to steal from Ohtani’s bank account but nevertheless able to conceal his gambling from Ohtani, Mizuhara needs to speak up, quickly. Otherwise, he will be taking the fall, technically and actually, for committing massive theft from Ohtani.

After the Bengals placed the franchise tag on receiver Tee Higgins, he requested a trade. A month later, nothing has changed.

Higgins, though, said Sunday that he expects to play for the Bengals this season.

I do anticipate it,” Higgins said, via video from Charlie Clifford of WXIX-TV. “I’ve grown a love for Cincinnati that I didn’t think I would. [I’m] looking forward to it.”

Higgins and the Bengals have talked for two years without coming to terms on a long-term deal. They have until 4 p.m. ET on July 15 to negotiate a new deal.

The one-year, fully guaranteed franchise tag will pay Higgins $21.8 million.

Safety Jessie Bates played 2022 on the franchise tag before leaving for a four-year, $64.02 million deal with the Falcons in the 2023 offseason. He earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time last season.

Eight teams used the franchise tag this offseason, and Higgins and Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. are the only players yet to sign a contract extension.

Higgins, 25, played 12 games last season, missing four games with a fractured rib and then Week 18 with a hamstring issue. He caught 42 passes for 656 yards and five touchdowns, all career lows.

Higgins had 1,000-yard seasons in 2021 and 2022 and has 257 catches for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns in his four seasons in Cincinnati, which made him a second-round pick in 2020.

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy is in New England, meeting with the Patriots, Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports.

McCarthy is having dinner with Patriots officials tonight and visiting the team facility on Monday.

The Patriots, who draft third, appear to be headed toward drafting the third quarterback after the Bears draft Caleb Williams at No. 1 and the Commanders take a quarterback at No. 2.

New England previously hosted North Carolina’s Drake Maye and LSU’s Jayden Daniels.

McCarthy also is scheduled to meet with the Commanders this week, and he previously has visited the Giants.

Three years ago, the Rams decided to move on from quarterback Jared Goff. They found a win-win with the Lions and Matthew Stafford.

It was an immediate win for the Rams and for Stafford. It has become a win for the Lions and Goff. And it might keep getting better.

“In hindsight, [being traded to the Lions] was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, for my career and my development as a human,” Goff said on the Trading Cards podcast, via Jared Ramsey of the Detroit Free Press. “Being shipped off and being sent to a place to die, essentially, is what a lot of people think it was and I was never going to allow that to happen. I’m fortunate enough to be around a lot of good coaches and players in Detroit that support me and help me reach my potential.”

The trade was hardly a Stabler-Pastorini flip-flop. The quarterbacks changed area codes, and the Rams gave up two first-round picks and a third-round pick. It was widely viewed in part as the Rams surrendering a first-round pick to the Lions, in order to get them to absorb Goff’s contract.

So the Lions got the picks and a quarterback who has led the team to the NFC Championship. And once they got past the full guarantees of $54.3 million, the contract became very reasonable. Last year, Goff made $25.975 million. This year, he’ll make $27.3 million. Given the market and the cap, that is a bargain.

It will be interesting to see whether he gets a new contract before, during, or after 2024. The Lions invested a third-round pick last year in quarterback Hendon Hooker. Do they view him as a replacement for Goff? Is he simply a fallback in the event Goff leaves?

The Lions might be tempted to use Goff’s affinity for Detroit against him when negotiating a new deal. Right or wrong, it happens.

However it plays out, the Lions have found a quarterback who has taken them to the brink of the Super Bowl. He’s still only 29.

They surely want to keep him. The challenge could be striking the right price. If he plays like he has, it won’t get any cheaper to keep him.

If you’re planning on buying the Father of Mine ebook today, don’t.

As of Monday, the price temporarily plummets to 99 cents.

Consider it a tax day and/or pre-draft and/or one-year anniversary of book release promotion. Regardless, as of Monday it will be only 99 cents for the 400-page ebook.

It’s a one-week promotion. On Monday, April 22, the price returns to $3.99, which is also quite a bargain.

Click here for the Amazon page. At 8:00 a.m. ET on Monday, the price will drop to 99 cents.

Father of Mine is a novel about the mob. It’s set in 1973. It’s inspired by the real-life crew that ran the town where I grew up — Wheeling, West Virginia. My dad was a bookie in that group, so I saw and heard plenty of things during my formative years. I’ve learned a lot more since then. It was all used as the basis and background for a completely fictional story.

It has been well reviewed, to my surprise. It has been well received, to my amazement. A sequel is coming, hopefully later this year.

If you want the print edition, it’s $14.99. Mainly because I can’t make it any cheaper than that, apparently because of the paper and whatnot.

You can also peruse Playmakers, a collection of essays about the past 20 years in the NFL, published by Hachette’s PublicAffairs in 2022. Or you can get On Our Way Home, a Christmas/ghost story. But only Father of Mine will be 99 cents for one week, starting Monday.

More are coming (whether you want them or not), including a cautionary tale about how gambling and the mob might eventually infiltrate pro football. If it hasn’t already. There’s other stuff, including a western and a murder mystery.

I started writing four years ago because the things I write here quickly become irrelevant, if they’re ever relevant in the first place. Today’s news means nothing by tomorrow. Tomorrow’s news means nothing by the next day. It’s rewarding to write something that potentially will have meaning and relevance and entertainment value for more than a day. If anyone reads it.

If you’ve been reading PFT, you apparently don’t hate the writing. You might not hate Father of Mine. At 99 cents, it’s a minimal risk to find out whether that’s the case.

Ninety-nine cents. Starting Monday. Lasting for a week. 99 cents.