Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow (L) gets taken by New Orleans Saints' safety Malcolm Jenkins during their NFL football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana November 6, 2011. The Saints beat the Buccaneers 27-16. REUTERS/Dan Anderson

Kellen Winslow II accepts 14-year sentence for rapes, sex crimes

Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II agreed to a new plea deal calling for him to spend 14 years in prison for raping two women and committing other sexual crimes, according to multiple reports on Friday afternoon.

The agreement was submitted Friday in San Diego Superior Court and replaces a previous agreement from November 2019 in which a sentencing range from 12 to 18 years was to be determined by a judge.

Winslow, 37, is guilty in the rapes of a 58-year-old homeless woman in 2018 and of an unconscious 17-year-old, when Winslow was 19, at a party in 2003.

Overall, he committed sex crimes against five women, including an assault of a hitchhiker in a parking lot behind a shopping center. In the new agreement, Winslow pleaded guilty to the hitchhiker assault with the intent to commit rape.

All of the attacks took place in the northern part of San Diego County. A final sentencing hearing was set for March 3.

Winslow was initially found guilty on three charges in June 2019, including indecent exposure toward a 58-year-old woman who was gardening in her front yard, a lewd conduct incident involving a 78-year-old woman at a health club and the rape of the homeless woman.

The following day, a judge declared a mistrial on eight other counts.

Winslow confessed to the 2003 party rape in November 2019.

Winslow appeared remotely from jail during Friday’s proceedings.

“I would like to agree to 14 years,” Winslow told Judge Blaine Bowman, according to USA Today.

Winslow is the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow, who starred for the San Diego Chargers from 1979-87.

Kellen Winslow II was a high school star in San Diego and went on to be a college star at Miami before being the sixth overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2004.

He caught 469 passes for 5,236 yards and 25 touchdowns in 105 games (83 starts) with the Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and New York Jets. His final NFL season was 2013 with the Jets.

Winslow II earned Pro Bowl honors in 2007 when he caught 82 passes for a career-best 1,106 yards for the Browns. He had a career-high 89 catches in 2006.

–Field Level Media

Jun 11, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt (99) talks to the media during a press conference in the media room at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Report: J.J. Watt ‘seriously considering’ joining Browns

Three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt is reportedly “seriously considering” taking his talents to the Cleveland Browns amid teams and players putting on the full-court press for the defensive end’s services in 2021.

Watt and the Houston Texans agreed to part ways late last week. Watt asked for his release and got it after 10 seasons with the club.

Cleveland.com reported Tuesday that Watt finds the Browns an attractive landing spot because they’re now positioned well to make a Super Bowl run. Further, the Browns have $21.7 million in cap space; Watt was set to make $17.5 million in 2021.

Plus, defensive end Myles Garrett (12 sacks in 2020) is on the other side.

But there’s competition for the five-time All-Pro. Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson said Tuesday that the Titans have reached out to Watt’s agents. Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Green Bay are also potential suitors. However, the Steelers and Packers are $30 million and $19 million over the cap, respectively.

Watt’s former teammate in Houston, Arizona wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, also took to social media Tuesday to woo Watt, photo-shopping Watt in a Cardinals uniform. Free agent wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster told Watt to “come play with your brothers” in Pittsburgh.

The Browns reached out to Watt’s agents Friday after his release from Houston, per the report.

Watt is Houston’s all-time leader in sacks with 101, tackles for loss (172), quarterback hits (282) and forced fumbles (25). He has 531 career tackles, 61 passes defensed and 16 fumble recoveries since the Texans made him the No. 11 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Corey Coleman (19) is tackled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis (33) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Report: WR Corey Coleman suspended six games

Free-agent wide receiver Corey Coleman has been suspended six games by the NFL for violating its performance-enhancing drug policy, the NFL Network announced Tuesday.

Coleman, 26, was released by the New York Giants in September and sat out the entire season.

The Cleveland Browns selected Coleman with the 15th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft and traded him to Buffalo on Aug. 5, 2018, for a 2020 seventh-round draft pick. He was released less than a month later.

Coleman then signed with New England but was released after less than a week; the Patriots later re-signed him to the practice squad. He was released nine days later when they acquired another former Browns receiver in Josh Gordon.

The Giants signed him to the practice squad in 2018, and he wound up playing in eight games and catching just five passes for 71 yards. New York was counting on his contribution in 2019, but he tore an ACL on the first day of practice and missed the season.

Coleman has 61 receptions for 789 yards and five touchdowns in 27 career NFL games.

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) runs the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Injured Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire inactive vs. Browns

Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was one of the team’s inactives for Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game against the visiting Cleveland Browns.

Edwards-Helaire is dealing with ankle and hip injuries and didn’t practice on Thursday and Friday. He missed the final two games of the regular season due to the injuries.

Edwards-Helaire led the Chiefs with 803 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns during the regular season.

Darrel Williams, who started, and Le’Veon Bell will receive the bulk of the workload in Edwards-Helaire’s absence.

Also inactive for the Chiefs due to injuries are receiver Sammy Watkins (calf), linebacker Willie Gay (ankle) and cornerback Rashad Fenton (foot/ankle). The team’s other inactives are offensive tackle Martinas Rankin, defensive tackle Khalen Saunders and defensive end Tim Ward.

The Browns listed four players as questionable for the game on Friday and are all active for Sunday’s game: right tackle Jack Conklin (hamstring/knee), linebacker B.J. Goodson (shoulder) and tight ends David Njoku (hamstring) and Stephen Carlson (groin).

Cleveland’s inactives are receivers Marvin Hall and Alexander Hollins, cornerback Brian Allen, safety Jovante Moffatt, defensive end Joe Jackson, tight end Kyle Markway and offensive tackle Alex Taylor.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) shake hands after the game at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Divisional Playoffs dividing bettors for Sunday games

The Cleveland Browns are 10-point underdogs as Sunday’s Divisional Playoff game at Kansas City approaches, and the largest spread line of the weekend is dividing bettors.

The Chiefs (14-2) are coming off a bye week as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They’re rested and playing host to a Browns team still managing its way through a COVID-19 outbreak.

However, Kansas City has failed to cover the spread in eight consecutive games. The Chiefs are being backed by 59 percent of the spread handle at BetRivers.com and 52 percent at DraftKings, but only 42 percent at FanDuel as of Friday.

Bettors are showing much more confidence in the Chiefs’ moneyline, backing them with 89 percent of the handle at -500 at FanDuel and 89 percent at DraftKings. BetRivers.com is offering Kansas City at -480, which is being backed by 86 percent of the handle.

The Over/Under has been set at 57 percent by all three sportsbooks. The Over is being backed by 89 percent of the handle at FanDuel, 85 percent at BetRivers.com and 83 percent at DraftKings.

The Browns are coming off an explosive 48-37 upset of Pittsburgh in the wild-card round, which elevated them into Sunday’s game.

Despite sitting out the Jan. 3 setback to the Los Angeles Chargers, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped engineer a 14-2 season for Kansas City while passing for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns. He will square off against Baker Mayfield as they reprise their old Big 12 shootouts.

The Chiefs scored at least 31 points in each of their postseason wins a year ago. Travis Kelce, who set an NFL record for tight ends with 1,416 receiving yards, also sat out the defeat against the Chargers, which snapped a 10-game Chiefs winning streak.

The final game of the Divisional Playoffs will feature future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and Drew Brees going toe-to-toe in what could be another shootout.

DraftKings and FanDuel have both set the Over/Under for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints game at 52, with the Over being backed by 81 percent of the handle at the former and 83 percent at the latter.

Brees’ Saints are 3-point favorites at all three books.

New Orleans swept the regular-season series, but the Bucs are being backed by 63 percent of the spread handle at BetRivers and 56 percent at FanDuel.

The action is more divided at DraftKings, where the Saints are backed by 51 percent of the spread handle. However, the Bucs (+175) are backed by 75 percent of the moneyline handle. Tampa Bay is being backed by 72 percent of the moneyline handle at BetRivers at +155, and 68 percent at FanDuel at +148.

New Orleans is the only team to have defeated Brady twice in the same season.

The Saints ruined Brady’s debut with the Buccaneers after 20 seasons in New England when they prevailed 34-23 in the season opener in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

They handed Brady the worst loss of his career when they completed the season-series sweep with a 38-3 rout in Tampa on Nov. 8.

Now the stakes are higher, as the winner will earn a trip to the NFC Championship on Jan. 24.

“When the playoffs come and you’re playing a division opponent like this,” Saints coach Sean Payton said, “it’s a whole new season. It’s entirely different.”

Much of the attention leading up to the game will be on Brees and Brady, the two most productive passers in NFL history. This will be the last time they face each other, if Brees retires after this season.

The Saints’ defense was perhaps the most important factor in winning the first two games. They intercepted Brady twice in the first meeting, including one that Janoris Jenkins returned for a touchdown. And they intercepted him three times in the second meeting.

Brees had six touchdowns and no interceptions in the first two meetings.

For the season, Brady has passed for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has just seven interceptions against teams other than New Orleans.

Since the second loss to the Saints, the Bucs have averaged 34.6 points per game.

–Field Level Media

Oct 11, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns offensive guard Joel Bitonio (75) is introduced before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Browns activate G Joel Bitonio off COVID-19 list

The Cleveland Browns activated veteran left guard Joel Bitonio off the reserve/COVID-19 list in advance of Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bitonio was added to the list on Jan. 5, and he was the final player to be activated. A week ago, eight Browns were on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and coach Kevin Stefanski also missed the wild-card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers after testing positive.

On Wednesday, cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson were activated.

Bitonio, 29, is the longest-tenured member of the Browns and a three-time Pro Bowl selection. He started all 16 regular-season games this season and has played in 95 games in all since the Browns selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

In a corresponding move, the Browns waived safety Tedric Thompson.

–Field Level Media

Dec 14, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski back to work

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is out of the basement and back at his office at team headquarters in Berea, Ohio.

Stefanski returned to the team after a positive COVID-19 test forced him to isolate in his home last week. Stefanski viewed the team’s first playoff win since 1994 from an uncomfortable distance in the bottom floor of his family’s home.

The Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night to set up a divisional playoff matchup with the AFC’s top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Stefanski was back at work 10 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19 and was required to test negative before returning to the team. Stefanski said his case was mild but he lost his sense of taste.

The Browns didn’t have long to savor the wild-card win with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs awaiting their company at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Kansas City rested during a bye last week and returned to full practice on Monday.

Offensive guard Joel Bitonio, one of the top-rated pass blockers in the NFL, also missed the wild-card game at Pittsburgh due to COVID-19. As of Thursday morning, the Browns had not cleared Bitonio from the reserve/COVID list.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward (21) breaks up a pass intended for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Browns activate CBs Denzel Ward, Kevin Johnson

Cleveland Browns cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson have been activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced Wednesday.

Ward and Johnson sat out Cleveland’s 24-22 win over Pittsburgh in the season finale on Jan. 3 as well as the 48-37 victory over the Steelers in the AFC wild-card round last Sunday.

Their expected returns in the AFC divisional-round game will be a welcome one, considering the upstart Browns are visiting Patrick Mahomes and the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs.

Ward, 23, recorded an NFL-best 16 passes defensed to go along with 46 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble in 12 games this season. He has 143 tackles, seven interceptions and two forced fumbles in 37 career games (36 starts) since being selected by Cleveland with the fourth overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Ward was selected to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season.

Johnson, 28, has collected 35 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 13 games (six starts) this season for the Browns. He has 199 tackles, two fumble recoveries and one interception in 64 career games (25 starts) with the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills and Browns.

–Field Level Media

Dec 14, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Stefanski no fan of watching Browns from basement

Running back Nick Chubb suggested it might violate superstition for first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski to rejoin the Cleveland Browns this week for the divisional playoff trip to face the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs.

“Sorry Nick,” Stefanski said, “You’re stuck with me buddy.”

Stefanski said he did feel the drama and has a newfound respect for fans after taking in the game without direct control of what was happening on the field. After pausing the game broadcast at one point, Stefanski learned of the Browns’ first touchdown when his family upstairs began screaming in celebration. Stefanski said his TV was about 45 seconds behind.

But Stefanski, who watched the Browns eliminate the Pittsburgh Steelers from the postseason Sunday night, said he has no intention of watching Cleveland football from his basement ever again. Stefanski was in isolation following a positive COVID-19 test last week and wasn’t present for the Browns’ first playoff win since 1994.

“I did a lot of pacing,” Stefanski said Monday. “I don’t plan on doing that again.”

Stefanski joked that he did no binge eating during the game because he “can’t taste anything,” but otherwise had mild symptoms.

NFL COVID-19 protocol permits Stefanski to return to work Thursday as the Browns (12-5) make final preparations for Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium where the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs are rested and waiting.

There will be some catching up to do for Stefanski and guard Joel Bitonio, one of the top-rated pass blockers in the NFL this season. Bitonio missed the game due to COVID and by the end of the night, quarterback Baker Mayfield was being protected by Blake Hance.

Hance was signed off the practice squad last week but because the team was unable to formally practice, Mayfield said he first met Hance in the locker room before Sunday’s game. Stefanski said he hasn’t even met Hance, but will this week.

“Looking forward to it,” he said with a smile.

As the Browns walked off the field at Heinz Field with a 48-37 win over the Steelers, Stefanski was surprised to see the phone number of wide receiver Jarvis Landry pop up on his cell phone. Landry was on FaceTime and one of multiple players and coaches who wanted Stefanski to be part of the postgame celebration.

“We’re one of eight teams,” he said. “I’m not a math major, but we’ll take those chances. This is the fun part about the playoffs.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) and defensive end Myles Garrett (95) celebrate after the AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Divisional round primer: Browns take aim at another upset

The Cleveland Browns get to celebrate their first postseason win in 26 years but their reward isn’t as fun as wakeboarding on Lake Erie.

The sixth-seeded Browns receive a date next Sunday (3:05 p.m. ET) against the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs.

The host Chiefs are also known as the defending Super Bowl champions and are heavy favorites to end Cleveland’s season in the AFC divisional round matchup.

But Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield isn’t willing to listen to the refrain, not after his team led the entire way in Sunday’s 48-37 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round.

“Nobody here is satisfied yet,” Mayfield said. “There’s a new standard and we’re going to try to keep it that way.”

The powerful Chiefs are well-rested after receiving a bye and quarterback Patrick Mahomes likely took note that Cleveland allowed Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger to complete 47 passes (in 68 attempts) for 501 yards.

Following is a quick glance at next week’s other three playoff games:

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills
The second-seeded Bills halted their own playoff issues on Saturday when they edged the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 for their first postseason triumph since the 1995 season. Buffalo will host the fifth-seeded Ravens on Saturday (8:15 p.m. ET).

Quarterback Josh Allen has provided Buffalo with a toughness quality at quarterback and top target Stefon Diggs has been superb all season. The Ravens counter with Lamar Jackson, who passed for 179 yards and rushed for 136 in Sunday’s 20-13 slaying of the fourth-seeded Tennessee Titans.

Baltimore is more accustomed to postseason play than the Bills and will certainly hope its defense can rattle Allen. The Ravens impressively held Titans’ 2,000-yard back Derrick Henry to 40 yards on 18 carries.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Tom Brady and Drew Brees will square off for the third time this season when the fifth-seeded Buccaneers visit the second-seeded Saints on Sunday (6:40 p.m. ET). New Orleans and Brees won the first two matchups by a combined 72-26.

The Saints held Chicago out of the end zone until the final play of Sunday’s 21-9 victory in the NFC wild-card round and will look to frustrate Brady. The 43-year-old Brady threw just two touchdowns against New Orleans this season while being picked off five times and sacked on six occasions.

Brees tossed six touchdown passes without an interception against the Buccaneers. And it surely doesn’t hurt to have do-everything running back Alvin Kamara on your team.

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers
NFL MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers and the top-seeded Green Bay Packers are coming off a bye as they prepare to host the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday (4:35 p.m. ET).

The sixth-seeded Rams already won one game in which few gave them a chance as they recorded a 30-20 road win over the Seattle Seahawks. Jared Goff (fractured right thumb) was forced into action when backup quarterback John Wolford suffered a neck injury and he is going to need to be able to throw the ball better (he was 9 of 19 vs. Seattle) for the Rams to keep up with the Packers.

Rodgers and star wideout Davante Adams (tied Sterling Sharpe’s franchise record of 18 touchdown catches) have been terrorizing defenses all season. Green Bay figures to keep its foot on the pedal early and often as it knows the Rams aren’t equipped for a shootout.

–Field Level Media