Victor Cruz agrees to one-year contract with Bears

The Chicago Bears continue to add to their collection of veteran wide receivers.

Former Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has agreed to terms with the team on a one-year deal, the Bears announced. Cruz celebrated the news with a slick photoshop.

News of the move was first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Kimberly Jones.

Since being released by the Giants in mid-February, Cruz had garnered interest from the Bears, Jaguars and Ravens, but only met with Chicago. His unceremonious departure from Big Blue continued to bother him as he went unsigned throughout the offseason, even up until this week when he told a radio show that his dip in production down the stretch in 2016 was due to the Giants’ front office intentionally sabotaging his season.

Cruz is the fourth notable wide receiver to join the Bears this offseason. Chicago has signed former Steelers wideout Markus Wheaton, former Titans receiver Kendall Wright and Cruz’s ex-teammate Rueben Randle to complement Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.

There’s no telling whether Cruz will find his footing in Chicago’s deep but competitive receiving corps; that’s for a spicy training camp battle to decide. But his signing in the Windy City allows for the wide receiver to rewrite his career with a rebuilding unit after multiple injury-addled seasons with the Giants.

New York Jets waive 2015 second-rounder Devin Smith

The New York Jets waived 2015 second-round pick Devin Smith on Monday.

The receiver was waived with an injury designation. Smith, the No. 37 overall pick two years ago, tore his ACL in Phase One of offseason workouts.

“It’s bad luck and bad timing because the kid worked so hard to get back,” coach Todd Bowles said following the injury, via the team’s official website. “He has to persevere and adversity will help him get stronger. But unfortunately in this game, over my course of time playing and coaching, you see these types of things. Some of the best athletes get hurt and don’t get a chance to get on the field and it’s just bad timing, bad luck.”

In two seasons, Smith didn’t live up to his high draft status, thanks in part to injuries. In 2016, he played in just four games and caught one pass for 20 yards. The 25-year-old speedster began last season on the physically unable to perform list after suffering an ACL tear in December 2015. In his rookie season, Smith played 10 games, catching nine passes for 115 yards and one touchdown.

If Smith clears waivers he would revert to the Injured Reserve list.

Pittsburgh Steelers cut tight end Ladarius Green

The Ladarius Green experiment is over in Pittsburgh.

The team announced Thursday they released the tight end with a failed physical designation.

Green signed a four-year, $20 million contract last season, he earned $6 million of the deal before being cut. Jettisoning the 26-year-old cost the Steelers $3.5 million in dead money, per OverTheCap.com.

The splash signing paid little dividends for Pittsburgh as Green battled injuries, playing in just six games, making two starts. In one season with the Steelers, the tight end caught 18 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown.

Signed to be a seam-stretching threat to replace the retired Heath Miller, Green battled injuries and continuing concussion issues. The tight end had documented concussion history during his four years in San Diego before signing with Pittsburgh. He also underwent ankle surgery last March.

While adding the athletic, pass-catching tight end made perfect sense from a schematic sense, the concussion and ankle problems proved faulty.

Cutting Green leaves the Steelers with Jesse James, Xavier Grimble and David Johnson at the tight end position heading into 2017.

The Steelers also announced they signed running back Terrell Watson.

Tom Brady doesn’t ‘agree’ with G.O.A.T. moniker

On the heels of Tom Brady Appreciation Week, and in the midst of Tom Brady Adulation Offseason, the Patriots quarterback continues to be lauded, often rightly, as the greatest of all time. Or as one video game enterprise put it: the G.O.A.T.

But Brady doesn’t see it that way. Not even after completing the greatest comeback in Super Bowl, and arguably professional football, history.

In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, Brady brushed off talk that he had surpassed his boyhood hero, former 49ers legend Joe Montana, as the greatest quarterback and football player in the game’s history.

“I don’t agree with that,” he told O’Connor, “and I’ll tell you why. I know myself as a player. I’m really a product of what I’ve been around, who I was coached by, what I played against, in the era I played in. I really believe if a lot of people were in my shoes they could accomplish the same kinds of things. So I’ve been very fortunate. … I don’t ever want to be the weak link.”

It’s quite a humble stance from a five-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP and two-time MVP who’s quarterbacked for a decade and a half the greatest football dynasty this league has ever known. But it’s one we’ve come to expect from Brady, who prefers to chase greatness, not profess it.

Instead, his eyes are now set on another legend of American sports: six-time NBA champion and brand master Michael Jordan.

“I was in awe of Michael Jordan,” Brady added, “and I still am in awe of what he was and what he meant. … He was such an effortless player. He put a lot of effort in, but there’s an art and a beauty to the way he played the game. That was a very inspiring thing.”

Numbers-wise, Brady, like LeBron James, is chasing Jordan’s six titles, a goal that, after New England’s impressive offseason, is expected to be reached sooner rather than later.

“The great part is the next one for me is No. 6,” Brady said, “and I’m not on No. 1. I’m trying to reach No. 6 and I’m on No. 5. If I got to No. 6, that would have great meaning to me. It’s not trying to keep up with my idols. It’s not Magic, Jeter, Mariano [Rivera], Kobe, Duncan, guys more my age who I always admired. I just want to win because I owe it to my teammates. I’m working this year like I have none, and hopefully it results in a magical season.”

There’s plenty more than a sixth championship for the Patriots quarterback to aspire to in reaching Jordan status.

The Bulls star is not only regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, but arguably the preeminent American athlete of the past 40 years, a reputation he channeled into building one of the most successful athletic-wear brands in the world. Brady’s post-football plans are to build his TB12 health and training brand into the leading name in “peak performance,” revolutionizing training methods and eating habits to extend athletes’ careers into the nebula.

That is … if there ever is a “post-football” for this guy.

When asked how long he really wants to play — a favorite query for any and all sports writers looking for a hot pull quote — Brady delivered.

“I always said my mid-40s and naturally that means around 45,” Brady reiterated. “If I get there and I still feel like I do today, I don’t see why I wouldn’t want to continue.”

But what about 50, Tommy?

“That’s a great question. If you said 50, then you can say 60, too, then 70. I think 45 is a pretty good number for right now. I know the effort it takes to be 40. … My love for the sport will never go away. I don’t think at 45 it will go away. At some point, everybody moves on. Some people don’t do it on their terms. I feel I want it to be on my terms. I’ve got to make appropriate choices on how to do that, how to put myself in the best position to reach my long-term goals.”

God help the AFC East.

Is Brandon Graham satisfied with his current contract?

Have the Eagles hit a bump in the road with Brandon Graham?

On the heels of a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane that Graham is poised to hold out for a new contract, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo on Wednesday that the defensive end is expected back with the team soon for optional and mandatory workouts. Garafolo added there’s no sense that Graham is pushing for a new contract at this point, according to the source.

The eighth-year lineman inked a four-year, $26 million contract in 2015. The pact pays Graham $6.5 million both this season and next, an amount apparently not sitting well for a player making less than teammate Vinny Curry, who has never logged an NFL start.

Graham, meanwhile, was Philly’s top-performing end last season and said of his contract in January: “We’ll worry about that when it comes, I guess. But I’m just going to try and make sure I’m working hard and hopefully things happen.”

On Wednesday, Graham refused to comment on his absence, saying via text, per McLane: “Can’t talk about contract stuff right now.”

It ultimately remains to be seen if Graham will be the first of many players league-wide to play a game of chicken with their employer over new cash. Each of these players will find out by September what they truly mean to the teams they toil for.

Bucs RB Doug Martin OK after being involved in car accident

TAMPA, Fla. — Buccaneers running back Doug Martin was involved in a car crash in Tampa early Thursday afternoon.

According to Tampa Police, at approximately 1:15 p.m., Martin’s black BMW was struck by a black Kia in the middle of an intersection, resulting in the Kia ramming into the side of a periodontist’s office and destroying an air conditioning unit.

No one inside the office was hurt and the building is still structurally intact. Police say Martin suffered minor cuts and bruises from the crash. The other driver was given a citation for running a stop sign.

Police spokesperson Janelle McGregor told ESPN that Martin was not cited for the incident and therefore no drugs or alcohol were involved.

The Bucs released a statement Thursday afternoon that said Martin has been evaluated by the team’s medical staff and has headed home.

Martin took to Twitter to reassure fans he was doing well, even if his car has seen better days.

Police spokesperson Janelle McGregor told ESPN that Martin was not cited for the incident and that no drugs or alcohol were involved.

Those inside the building told ESPN that they heard the crash and immediately called 911, before bringing out bottled water and Band-Aids for both drivers. They also said that accidents at this South Tampa intersection — Azeele Street and Habana Avenue — are fairly common.

By 3 p.m., both cars had been removed from the scene and all that remained from the accident was the destroyed air conditioning unit and damaged landscaping.

It has been a difficult offseason for Martin. The two-time Pro Bowler left the team before the final game of the season to enter a drug treatment program after he tested positive for performance-enhancing substances.

Martin returned to Tampa for the start of the offseason program last month and the team has been encouraged by what they’ve seen from him.

“We’ve been happy with the trajectory that he’s on,” general manager Jason Licht said just a few days ago during the NFL draft. He noted that this is the best Martin has looked physically since Licht has been in Tampa. “He has the right mindset right now and looks good physically.”

Niners surprised when Bears took Mitchell Trubisky, not Solomon Thomas, after trade

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch thought the Chicago Bears wanted to trade up for the No. 2 pick of the NFL draft to take defensive end Solomon Thomas, not quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, according to The MMQB.

“Man, who do they want?” Lynch said, according to the report. “Gotta be Solomon, right?”

“Call me crazy,” 49ers chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe said, “but I think it’s Trubisky.”

“Then why did they go get [Mike] Glennon?” Lynch responded.

The MMQB embedded a reporter with the 49ers on draft day, leading to the story detailing how the trade of two of the top three picks went down.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace refused to tell the 49ers whom he intended to choose, but Chicago agreed to give San Francisco its third overall choice, a 2017 third-round pick, a 2017 fourth-round pick and a 2018 third-round pick.

After moving back one spot, the 49ers selected Thomas, one of the top three players on their draft board, along with defensive end Myles Garrett (No. 1 overall to the Browns) and linebacker Reuben Foster, whom San Francisco eventually got at No. 31.

The 49ers had no interest in drafting Trubisky at No. 2, and the Bears seemingly knew it.

“[Pace] said, ‘I think you guys are going to be comfortable with what we do,’” Marathe said, according to the report, following a phone call with the Bears GM.

Another unidentified team contacted the 49ers about obtaining the second pick, according to the report.

Pace insisted Thursday night that the Bears had to be aggressive for fear of losing Trubisky to another team.

“We have a lot of feelers out there, and you’re kind of feeling the situation out, and I didn’t want to sit on our hands and have some team jump us or have it not work out,” Pace said. “When we were this close, within reach of a player that was all really valued, I didn’t want to sit on our hands and risk not getting that player.”

The Bears signed Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract during free agency. The deal contains $16 million guaranteed for the 2017 season and $2.5 million in 2018.