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NFL rumors roundup

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AP Photo/Gail Burton

Here's a look at some of the top rumors for Monday, August 31:

  • Monday's announcement from Jay Gruden that the Washington Redskins will start Kirk Cousins, and not Robert Griffin III, in Week 1 wasn't a shock, but it raises the interesting question of what Griffin's future will be. The fact that the decision was made regardless of Griffin's health affirms that Gruden and his staff don't find Griffin to be a very good quarterback, and his presence on the roster moving forward would be a distraction, especially if Cousins struggles. Because his fifth-year option is guaranteed against injury -- and because Washington has a solid backup QB in Colt McCoy -- Griffin seems likely to be traded or released. But is any team interested in acquiring him? One team that has quarterback issues, the New York Jets, is not interested, according to NFL media's Jeff Darlington. Considering Griffin's injury history and on-field struggles, combined with the attention he brings, it's hard to picture a trade market developing. Still, coaches always seem to believe they can get the most out of an underperforming talent, so Griffin should wind up somewhere if Washington releases him.

  • ESPN's Adam Schefter hinted Monday morning that Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan preferred Tyrod Taylor as his starting quarterback, and the decision appears to be final now. We thought Taylor was the most likely candidate before his excellent performance Friday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, so the news isn't much of a surprise, but projecting the Bills' season becomes more interesting now. While Ryan wanted to keep the Indianapolis Colts in the dark on the team's starter for Week 1, Taylor is difficult to defend even if a team can prepare for him. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has experience incorporating his QB's athleticism into game plans from his days with Colin Kaepernick, so plenty of read-option plays should be expected. If the defense gels and Buffalo's offensive weapons can stay healthy, 12 wins and an AFC East title could be a possibility considering Taylor's high ceiling.

  • Though we know Taylor will start, the status of Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel is still unclear. Ryan said in his postgame press conference on Saturday that he "would assume" the Bills would keep three quarterbacks on the roster, "unless something else happens." However, NFL media's Ian Rapoport expects either Cassel or Manuel to be off Buffalo's roster by Week 1. Manuel is younger and more talented, and he finished Saturday's game against the Steelers with a perfect quarterback rating, but he's been far less consistent. It cost Buffalo fifth- and seventh-round picks to acquire Cassel from the Minnesota Vikings -- the Bills also got a sixth-round pick back -- so it would be surprising if he were cut. Perhaps Ryan will stick to his assumption and keep both, but Rapoport's suggestion is intriguing.

  • Unsurprisingly, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and commissioner Roger Goodell failed to reach a settlement on Monday in Brady's appeal, and a ruling on the case will arrive between Tuesday and Friday. We bring this up only to remind readers that the decision will very likely favor the NFL, as ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson pointed out soon after the appeal hearings began. As Munson noted, the NFL's position is rock solid because of established precedent limiting a judge's authority over an arbitration decision. Munson also suggested U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman's strident questioning of the league only further illustrated the NFL's strong position, as the more confident side is typically more difficult to convince to pursue a settlement and thus requires more prodding. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Berman will likely rule against Brady, prompting the more interesting question of whether Brady will appeal to a higher court.

  • While the news of Martavis Bryant's suspension only surfaced last week, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Steelers were aware of Bryant's failed drug tests "at least as far back as the spring" and that such knowledge influenced the drafting of Sammie Coates in the third round. Coates has a good combination of size and speed, but he struggled with drops at Auburn and is certainly not as explosive as Bryant. Expect Coates to be brought along slowly and used occasionally as a deep threat while Bryant is out. Bryant's huge performance (three catches, 138 yards, one TD and two pass interference penalties drawn for 50 yards) in the first half against the Bills on Saturday showed why the second-year wideout has fantasy owners drooling for his return.

  • The Detroit Lions' trade for tight end Tim Wright appears to be more about depth at the position than an indictment of 2014 first-round pick Eric Ebron's progress. Tim Twentyman of the team's official website noted that Ebron remains the starting tight end and is completely unaffected by the move. We'd expect Ebron to improve on his lackluster rookie season this year, but fantasy owners may want to wait and see what his role is in the Lions' attack before trusting him on a regular basis. For what it's worth, Ebron seemed amused by the general reaction following the trade.

  • Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel thinks Green Bay Packers cornerback Casey Hayward is in danger of losing his starting job. Hayward had a terrific rookie season but has not approached that level since, as he's battled chronic hamstring issues and a stress fracture in his foot. Hayward was promoted to the starting lineup after the departure of Tramon Williams and Davon House this offseason, but McGinn thinks he could be relegated to a slot-specific role due to impressive preseason campaigns by rookies Damarious Randall (first round), Quinten Rollins (second round) and LaDarius Gunter (undrafted).

  • It now appears that Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks won't be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, according to Vito Stellino of Jacksonville.com. Less than two weeks ago, Marks appeared to be on schedule, but Stellino notes "it is now starting to look unrealistic for him to be back that soon and he understands that." Stellino adds that Week 3 against the Patriots may be the earliest Marks can return, but "that may be optimistic." Marks tore his ACL in the regular-season finale last season after an excellent season in which he had 8.5 sacks. The Jaguars' defense could struggle without its best lineman, and that could continue if Marks isn't his old self right away.

  • As if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive line needed more bad news, rookie left tackle Donovan Smith (ankle) was in a walking boot on Monday, according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. The Bucs' line was perhaps the league's worst last year and has struggled this preseason with two rookies -- Smith and guard Ali Marpet -- among the five starters. Even if Smith is healthy enough to play, ankle injuries tend to linger and limit mobility, which isn't ideal for a big man not known for his athleticism. It doesn't help that Jameis Winston is also dealing with an ankle issue. The Bucs' line could be awful once again, making it difficult to trust Winston or Doug Martin, despite the latter's impressive preseason.

  • On an issue we've explored before, it would be a shock if the Tennessee Titans keep guard Andy Levitre on the roster as a backup, according to Jim Wyatt of the team's official website. The high-priced lineman appears to be stuck on the second team and the Titans surely don't want to pay an exorbitant fee for a reserve. Releasing Levitre would incur a dead-money charge of $6.3 million on Tennessee's cap.