CLEVELAND — After a successful virtual, stay-at-home experience this year, the NFL plans to hold its draft outdoors in downtown Cleveland next year from April 29 to May 1.

The dates were announced Tuesday, three days after the completion of a unique draft that went smoothly despite logistical obstacles due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

TV ratings soared over the weekend as fans soaked in every moment of a rare live sporting event held in recent months. Commissioner Roger Goodell announced this year’s selections for the first three rounds from his basement in the New York City suburbs, and viewers got to see players react and celebrate at home with loved ones.

“We successfully brought to life the first virtual NFL draft last week, and we are now very excited to work with Cleveland to incorporate some of the innovations and special access from 2020 into our planning for 2021,” said Peter O’Reilly, the league’s vice president of club business and league events. “We look forward to partnering with the Browns, the city of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland to create a memorable celebration of football for such a passionate fan base and community.”

The NFL officially awarded Cleveland the 2021 NFL draft last year. The Browns will be celebrating their 75th anniversary next year.

Details are still being finalized, but the Cleveland draft will be held at locations around FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“It’s such a great football town, with a huge number of draft fans,” O’Reilly said. “It was right there in the top three in market ratings this year, and they are very passionate about football. There are some unique things we can do with the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame and with the stadium. There’s an opportunity to bring in music and great artists into that environment and kind of ‘rock the clock.'”

CHIEFS: Kansas City released two-time Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt, whose 15-year career with the franchise allowed him to set numerous club records, including the most games played and most postseason appearances.

Colquitt, who turns 38 next month, posted a farewell on Instagram late Monday in which he said that “all things come to an end, sometimes sooner than you hoped, prayed and pleaded for them to.” A person familiar with the team’s decision confirmed it to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because it had not been announced.

Colquitt stopped short of saying he was retiring, which would save the Chiefs $2 million in salary cap space. He was due a workout bonus of $2 million with $650,000 in dead cap space as he entered the final year of his contract.

His future with the franchise had come into question over the past few weeks, when the Chiefs signed free agent Tyler Newsome and undrafted rookie Tommy Townsend to compete for the spot in training camp.

BRONCOS: Denver agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent defensive lineman Christian Covington on a one-year contract.

Covington played for the Dallas Cowboys last year after spending four seasons with the Houston Texans, who selected him in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL draft.

In 66 games, including 15 starts, Covington has 93 tackles, 8½ sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.

He started a career-best six games for the Cowboys last season, when he had 28 tackles, including 20 solo stops, to go with one sack and a pass breakup.

STEELERS: Pittsburgh picked up the fifth-year option on All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt.

Watt, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2017 draft, is coming off a stellar 2019 in which he had 14 1/2 sacks and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second time.

Watt finished in the top five in the NFL in five categories last year, including sacks, quarterback hits and forced fumbles. He became the first player since 1990 to have at least two interceptions, four fumble recoveries and eight forced fumbles in a season.

BEARS: Chicago signed defensive tackle John Jenkins.

Jenkins appeared in 16 games and made five starts for Miami last season, getting one sack. He has also played for New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago and the New York Giants since he entered the league in 2013.

The Bears also signed 11 undrafted free agents: Mississippi State defensive lineman Lee Autry, Yale offensive lineman Dieter Eiselen, Maryland linebacker Keandre Jones, Western Illinois linebacker LaCale London, Florida International running back Napoleon Maxwell, Duke defensive lineman Trevon McSwain, Oregon State running back Artavis Pierce, Florida Atlantic linebacker Rashad Smith, LSU offensive lineman Badara Traore, Kentucky receiver Ahmad Wagner and Buffalo linebacker Ledarius Mack — brother of star pass rusher Khalil Mack.

BROWNS: Free agent wide receiver Rashard Higgins has agreed to a one-year contract to stay with Cleveland, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

Higgins, who clashed with former Browns coach Freddie Kitchens last season, will sign the $910,000 veteran minimum deal soon, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the agreement.

A fifth-round pick from Colorado State in 2016, Higgins had only four catches for 55 yards in 10 games last season while he also dealt with a knee injury. But he landed in Kitchens’ dog house, and his absence impacted Cleveland’s offense as well as quarterback Baker Mayfield.

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