Eli Manning will miss "spring ball" with the New York Giants recovering from ankle surgery.
General manager Jerry Reese said the Giants will not put their starting quarterback on the field until training camp commences. Manning had surgery on April 10 and was told he would be limited to zero-gravity rehabilitation for at least six weeks.
Manning's current recovery schedule has him pegged for light running by mid-May. Organized team activities begin May 28 and a mandatory minicamp is scheduled for June 17-19.
"We want him back for the summer. We are not going to rush him," Reese said.
---Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith knows exactly what he intends to do with the No. 1 overall pick when the team is officially on the clock next Thursday to open the 2014 NFL Draft.
Just in case a tremor of a trade offer comes down the pike, Smith will keep the identity of the player the Texans covet to himself for the time being. Sports Xchange contributor John McClain reported Wednesday that Houston was down to two possibilities at No. 1: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and state-grown quarterback Johnny Manziel.
"I absolutely know who I want," Smith said.
There is also the option of selling the pick to the highest bidder. Even if the Texans draft a player, Smith could do so with the intent to unload that prospect to the highest bidder. Jacksonville, which drafts third overall, Cleveland (fourth), Oakland (fifth) and Atlanta (sixth) are all thought to hold some level of interest in Clowney or Manziel.
---The Dallas Cowboys made it official Thursday by exercising the fifth-year option on Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith's contract.
As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, Smith, the No. 9 pick in the 2011 draft, will earn $10.039 million next season. As a top-10 pick, Smith will earn the average salary of the top 10 players at his position through 2014. Smith, 23, signed a four-year, $12.496 million deal in 2011 that was fully guaranteed and included a $7.588 million signing bonus.
The 6-foot-5, 318-pound Smith has started every game he has played since joining the Cowboys, missing one game in 2012 because of an ankle injury. He moved to left tackle in 2012 after starting at right tackle as a rookie.
The Cowboys also signed wide receiver LaRon Byrd, a free agent who was released by the Cardinals earlier in April.
---The Denver Broncos picked up the fifth-year option for linebacker Von Miller in 2015, according to multiple reports Thursday.
The option would pay Miller a $9.754 million salary in 2015. The fifth-year salary is guaranteed only for injury, so the Broncos are protected against any off-field issues or a sudden drop in on-field performance. He is coming back from a torn ACL suffered in Week 16 last year. He was suspended six games to start the season due to his latest violation of the substance-abuse policy.
---The Tennessee Titans won't exercise the fifth-year option on quarterback Jake Locker's contract, according to multiple reports.
The Tennessean first reported the decision Wednesday evening and ESPN.com confirmed with sources Thursday. The decision means Locker, who missed 25 games in three seasons because of injuries, will be playing for his future in Tennessee this season. The price tag to pick up the option was about $14.6 million, according to The Tennessean. Locker, who was the eighth overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, is scheduled to make $2.091 million this season.
Locker is still expected to be the starter for the Titans in their first season under coach Ken Whisenhunt. Locker is recovering from surgery on his foot that ended his 2013 season in November. He has an 8-10 record in his career as a starter.
---The New York Giants exercised their 2015 contract option on cornerback Prince Amukamara, according to multiple media reports Thursday.
Amukamara, 24, will get a salary equal to the average of the top 25 highest-paid corners in the league, according to option rules for first-round picks. That is believed to be around $7 million, but it is a non-guaranteed deal, the New York Daily News reported. He will make $1.5 million in 2014.
The Giants took Amukamara with the No. 19 pick in the 2011 draft. He started all 16 games in 2013, making 85 tackles. He has just three career interceptions.
---Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pleaded not guilty Thursday on aggravated assault charges for allegedly punching and knocking out his then-girlfriend, Janay Palmer, at a New Jersey casino.
Rice applied for a Pretrial Intervention Program, which will be reviewed by prosectors. If PTI is successfully completed, there is no record of conviction and he would avoid the stigma of a criminal record. If he is not accepted, a plea deal could be reached.
Coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome, in addition to Ravens teammates, have publicly supported Rice and asked that he not be judged solely on one incident while letting the legal matter run its course.
---The Cleveland Browns signed linebacker Zac Diles and quarterbacks Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young, the team announced Thursday.
All three players participated on a tryout basis during the Browns' voluntary minicamp this week.
Diles, a 6-foot, 245-pound veteran entering his eighth NFL season out of Kansas State, spent parts of the past two seasons with the Tennessee Titans. The Titans initially signed him as a free agent in May 2012, but a broken leg after six games truncated his first season there.
Thigpen, a 6-1, 216-pound signal-caller from Coastal Carolina, is a seventh-year veteran. In six NFL seasons, Thigpen has a 72.5 passer rating. In 29 games, including 12 starts, he has completed 275 of 509 passes for 3,222 yards, 21 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Young, a 6-5, 229-pound veteran, enters his seventh NFL season out of Texas. The third overall selection by Tennessee in the 2006 NFL Draft, Young spent five seasons and was named to two Pro Bowls (after the 2006 and '09 seasons) with the Titans, prior to signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011. Prior to signing with the Browns, Young competed in training camp and the preseason with the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
---The Atlanta Falcons signed free agent tight end Bear Pascoe, the team announced Thursday.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Pascoe was originally selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He was signed by the New York Giants on Sept. 15, 2009. He has played in 66 career games with 32 starts and has recorded 38 receptions for 333 yards with one touchdown.
In 2013, Pascoe saw action in all 16 games with six starts for the Giants and caught 12 passes for 88 yards. Pascoe played in 45 games with 37 starts at Fresno State while totaling 112 receptions for 1,294 yards, and 10 touchdowns.
---The Kansas City Chiefs signed offensive guard Otis Hudson on Thursday, according to the NFL's transactions.
The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Hudson had stints on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons and was briefly with the team last summer. Hudson, 27, was a fifth-round pick of the Bengals in 2010.