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Winners, losers from the NFL lockout

Fans wait outside the NFL Players Association headquarters in Washington AP

We have broken down the deal.  Now let’s look at who escaped this lockout slog looking good, and who didn’t.

The Winners

Veteran NFL players: They missed an offseason of minicamps and practices, which should make it easier to fend off young players in camp this year.  More importantly, they will get a bigger slice of the salary cap pie.

Top rookies will make far less in this new CBA, and that money will go to veterans.  Getting NFL teams to agree to a very aggressive “salary cap floor” also guarantees NFL revenue will be spent back on the players.

For example, teams have to spend to 99% of the salary cap as a league this year.  The lowest any team can spend is 89% of the cap.  These are huge increases from previous floors that will guarantee small market teams spend aggressively.

Players you’ve never heard of: Minimum salaries of players will go up $50,000, which is a substantial increase.  Almost half the league has minimum salary contracts.  The players did right by their right by the rank and file.

Bank accounts of NFL owners: The NFLPA* was playing defense all along.  We essentially knew ahead of time the owners would leave this lockout with a larger share of total revenue, and that is the case.

The players made advances in other issues like safety and a salary cap floor, but ultimately the owners will now get a greater share of a rapidly growing revenue pool.  This can be a “win-win” deal, but there’s no debate the owners will get more money in this CBA than the one that came before it.

That was the entire idea behind the lockout.

Small market teams: Yes, they have to spend more to get to the salary cap floor.  They also will get more revenue sharing help from the top-earning teams in the league.

Jeff Saturday and Domonique Foxworth: These two leaders from the NFLPA* earned a lot of respect.

Mediator Arthur Boylan: Sure, the biggest breakthrough happened when he was on vacation.  Boylan still kept the union and NFL moving forward during choppy waters.  He helped to finish the job mediator George Cohen could not.

A special thanks to …

Patriots owner Robert Kraft: No owner did more to bring the two sides together and compromise than Patriots owner Robert Kraft. That he did it against the backdrop of his wife’s battle with cancer makes his contributions all the more remarkable.

Colts center Jeff Saturday’s remarks after the agreement said it all.

Gets his own category

DeMaurice Smith: Fans may disagree, but we suspect history will show Smith did well by his players.  Let’s face it: The NFLPA* is always going to be an underdog in labor talks.  They have fewer resources and they were playing defense.

Smith took over a difficult situation and slowly earned the respect of his players and adversaries in ownership.  He didn’t give up that much and got plenty in return for financial concessions.  Most importantly, he helped get to the finish line without missing significant time in training camp or the preseason.

The lockout was caused by owner unhappiness at a time of unprecedented prosperity in the league. They locked the players out, which has to count for something.  Both sides were at fault for taking fans for granted throughout the process, and dragging this out longer than necessary.  That’s why Smith isn’t a “winner” but someone that earned respect.

Losers

The 18-game concept: It will eventually be a matter of debate again, but not for at least two years.  This was a big issue for the players, and they didn’t budge.

Roger Goodell: We think Goodell is a very good commissioner with the best interests of the game at heart. But there’s no denying he’s been beaten up over the last few months.  Player anger towards him became significant.  A perception grew that he couldn’t control his owners. (We’re not sure anyone could.)

Goodell’s efforts to end the lockout cannot be underestimated.  But this is a results business: Goodell presided over the longest work stoppage in league history.  In the long run, people will view the 2011 lockout as a speed bump for a wildly successful league.  In the short run, the NFL can’t have it both ways.

They have sold the concept to fans on NFL Network that the “season never ends.” It ended for five months this year, running the league’s biggest fans through an emotional ringer.

This lockout came primarily as a money grab at a time of unprecedented success for the league. Considering the economic climate the lockout took place in, Goodell takes a short-term hit.

Hardcore coaches: Practice contact will be reduced dramatically in the regular season. Offseason practices will also be cut down, with big fines for coaches who break the rules.

“The only thing the players didn’t get is someone else to play for them,” one source told PFT.

Highly-drafted rookies: This especially applies to top ten picks.  No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton is slated to get roughly $22 million over the next four years.  For comparison’s sake, last year’s top pick Sam Bradford got $50 million guaranteed and $72 million over his first six years.

First-round picks outside the top-16 picks will take a hit, but it’s not as dramatic.  Players taken in rounds two-through-seven may actually benefit because of the minimum salary increase.

All 2011 rookies: It will be harder for quarterbacks like Newton or Minnesota’s Christian Ponder to win starting gigs and succeed in camp after missing the entire offseason.  This will especially hurt late-round picks and undrafted players that now seem more likely to be cut.

Undrafted players:  With the per-team signing bonus expenditure limited to $75,000 per team for undrafted players, these rookies will no longer be able to tell prospective teams to put their money where their mouths are.

Agents: They are taking a hair cut on fees for rookie contracts, which are already headed South.  Anti-holdout measures for rookies will also be taken, which takes away a leverage point for agents.

Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb: Perhaps the Bengals could have traded Palmer before the 2011 draft. Now it appears he may spend the 2011 season at home because he refuses to play for Cincinnati.  The Bengals probably won’t entertain trading him until 2012.

McNabb would not still be a member of the Redskins if not for the lockout. With five highly drafted rookies getting taken, the market for him has been significantly diminished. His exorbitant bonus isn’t due until September, which means the Redskins may fruitlessly try to trade him for a while.  More jobs will be filled in the meantime.

Vincent Jackson: Fans won’t forget that Jackson was the last Brady antitrust plaintiff to give up on squeezing the NFL for more cash in exchange for his signature.  We don’t think it’s fair to call the players “greedy” throughout much of the process, but Jackson, Logan Mankins, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning took a P.R. hit by seeking extra benefits for attaching their name to the antitrust case.

NFL fans: The players and owners take us for granted because they can.  We just want football, and we support the league completely. It was an insane act of hubris for the NFL to threaten to take the game away when it was at its very peak. The league isn’t likely to pay for it.

Rich Eisen from NFL Network put it well: “Love all these fans saying now we missed nothing when my twitter feed has been filled for 4 months MFing everyone involved in this process.”

The more you love the game, the more these last five months have been difficult to swallow.

The lucky part: We won’t have to go through this again for at least another decade.

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Jaguars’ Tandon Doss arrested for disorderly conduct, not charged

Jarrad Page, Tandon Doss, Brian Rolle AP

Jaguars receiver Tandon Doss was arrested on Wednesday in Indianapolis for disorderly conduct, but he will not be charged.

An Indianapolis police report describes Doss as “out of control” during a disturbance with another man. But the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office decided not to file charges.

The Jaguars have acknowledged they are aware of the matter but made no other comment.

Doss, who grew up in Indianapolis, was a 2011 fourth-round draft pick of the Ravens and spent his first three years in the NFL in Baltimore before signing this offseason with the Jaguars.

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Report: Donovan McNabb was arrested for DUI, spent one day in jail

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb was arrested for driving under the influence in January, agreed to a plea deal and has already served his sentence of one day in jail, according to TMZ.

Although the arrest is months old, it went unreported until McNabb’s mug shot was released today.

There are still no details about exactly what McNabb’s plea was, and no explanation about why the arrest took so long to become public.

McNabb did not address the matter on his NBC Sports Radio show today.

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Report: Pitt quarterback Tom Savage invited to Draft

Tom Savage, Ufomba Kamalu AP

As the NFL Draft creeps ever so slowly closer, you’ll hear lots of talk about “late-risers.”

Usually, they’re more cases of the media catching up with what teams have thought all along. Regardless, one of this year’s hot names of the last few weeks is quarterback Tom Savage.

According to Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the former Pitt passer has been invited to New York for the draft, but hasn’t decided whether he’ll attend.

That goes along with reports that there are more teams wanting to talk to him than he has time to talk to, and it’s becoming clear that Savage’s stock is higher than many anticipated.

He has the size and the arm strength teams covet, which could lead him into the late-first, early-second round neighborhood.

Which side of that line he’s on, and how much he likes sitting around a green room, could ultimately influence his choice to attend the proceedings.

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Ravens visited with C.J. Mosley, Jimmie Ward recently

CJ Mosley AP

Rolando McClain wasn’t the only former Alabama linebacker to pay the Ravens a visit this week.

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Ravens had C.J. Mosley in for a pre-draft visit. For Mosley’s sake, let’s hope it went better than McClain’s attempt to restart his NFL career.

Mosley is considered the top inside linebacker prospect in this year’s draft and is expected to be a first-round pick next month. Mosley suffered a handful of injuries during his time with the Crimson Tide, but said recently that he got a clean bill of health at the combine.

The Ravens re-signed Daryl Smith this offseason and also bring back Arthur Brown, Albert McClellan and Josh Bynes at inside linebacker, but saw Jameel McClain sign with the Giants. That doesn’t make it the most pressing of needs, especially with a hole at safety next to Matt Elam.

On that front, Wilson reports that the Ravens have also met with Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward recently. Ward is coming off a foot injury, but has been able to work out this spring and is projected to be selected in the first two rounds.

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Another jam-packed PFT on NBCSN today

NBCUniversal Logos

Thursday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN expands back to an hour.  And we’ll be covering plenty of ground during that time.

It’s Bengals and Chargers draft preview day, and we’ve interviewed Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis and San Diego coach Mike McCoy.

Also joining the program will be Washington running back Bishop Sankey, who would be a first-round pick based on name alone.

Then there’s the poll question.  As posted below.  Please answer below.

And please tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN for a full hour of the latest NFL news and analysis.

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Jaguars release four, including starter Russell Allen

Buffalo Bills v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

The Jaguars were among the league’s most prolific transaction-makers a year ago, and they’re doing some more business before they start adding players again before the draft.

The team announced they had released veteran linebacker Russell Allen, and waived three other players — defensive ends Will Pericak and D’Aundre Reed and wide receiver Jabin Sambrano.

Allen had started 29 games for the Jaguars the last two seasons, and 44 total in five years with the team. The former undrafted rookie from San Diego State was scheduled to make $1.975 million this year, the final year of his contract.

He was a solid enough player for them, and they don’t exactly need the cap room, so the reason for his release is a bit unclear.

UPDATE 4:24 P.M. ET: Via Mark Long of the Associated Press, the Jaguars said Allen failed his physical. He ended last season on injured reserve because of a concussion.

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Khalil Mack to visit with Falcons next week as well

Khalil Mack AP

The Falcons went into this offseason hoping to put together a defense that makes more impactful plays than the 2013 version and they’re devoting a good chunk of next week to meetings with players that might help them do that.

We’ve already seen reports that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr are headed for visits with Atlanta next week and Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports that the Falcons are also expected to meet with Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. That gives them a clean sweep of the top three defensive edge players in this year’s class.

The Falcons aren’t locked into going that route, however. They’ve also shown interest in the top two offensive tackles — Auburn’s Greg Robinson and Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews — and they can use the help in either area.

Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff made a big trade up to get wide receiver Julio Jones a few years ago and the Falcons could make another move this year if they don’t think the player they want will make it to the sixth pick. Next week’s meetings will likely help inform that decision.

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Oakland hopes to work something out with Raiders before A’s

Oakland Coliseum Getty Images

Raiders owner Mark Davis has repeatedly said that he wants Oakland to address the team’s stadium situation sooner rather than later, especially since the Raiders signed a one-year Band-Aid stadium lease through 2014.

Davis apparently has gotten the city’s attention.

Via SportsBusiness Daily, the Oakland A’s hope to sign a 10-year lease to remain at the outdated, sewage-ridden (at times) Coliseum.  Oakland, however, hopes to work something out with the Raiders first.

The A’s would pay little rent and would make $10 million to $12 million in improvements, including a new scoreboard and a ribbon scoreboard between the two decks.

The Raiders presumably want their own place.  Davis has called the presence of a dirt infield in the only venue shared with the local baseball team “a travesty.”

Some Raiders fans would say it’s fitting, given the franchise’s performance over the last decade.

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Joe Reitz signs RFA tender with Colts

Joe Reitz AP

The Colts start their offseason workouts on Monday, which may explain why guard Joe Reitz decided to bring his time as a restricted free agent to an end on Thursday.

The team announced that Reitz has signed the tender offer extended to him earlier this offseason. Reitz will make $1.431 million as a result.

Reitz was claimed off waivers from the Dolphins in 2010 and has played in 34 games over the last three seasons. He’s started 20 of those games, including three in 2013, but is slated for a reserve role next season with Donald Thomas expected back to full strength after last year’s injury-marred season.

With Reitz back in the fold, the Colts return most of last year’s offensive line. Center Samson Satele was cut and sometime-starter Jeff Linkenbach signed with Kansas City while Phil Costa and Lance Louis were signed to join Reitz in the mix for depth roles.

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McNabb’s arrest relates to traffic citation

McNabb Getty Images

Yes, former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb has been arrested in Arizona.  The details of the arrest remain largely vague.

Via KTAR.com, the arrest relates to a “criminal traffic” situation.  The incident apparently occurred on January 6, with an arraignment on January 15.

The list of court dates shows three different “change of plea” entries.  It’s possible there was only one change of plea, and that the hearing relating to the change of plea was postponed twice.

Trial is set for May 16, 2014.  It remains unclear what McNabb allegedly did.

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Arizona sheriff releases mugshot of Donovan McNabb

McNabb

It’s unclear why a mugshot has been taken of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb.  But a mugshot of McNabb has indeed been taken.

The mugshot also has been released publicly by the Maricopa (Arizona) County Sheriff’s Office, with no explanation of the purpose or reason for the mugshot.

It’s rare for a law enforcement agency to release a mugshot without explaining why the mugshot was taken.  But that’s precisely what has occurred.

AZFamily.com, which has posted the mugshot on its website, says that more details are coming.  The details, frankly, already should have arrived.

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Dominique Easley says he’ll be ready for OTAs

Toledo v Florida Getty Images

After his workout for NFL teams Thursday, Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley said his knee was “about 80 percent” and that he’d be ready to minicamp practices this spring.

His coach is 100 percent sure he’ll make some team very happy.

According to Jeff Barlis of ESPN.com, Easley worked out for 17 teams Thursday, showing them he was largely recovered from his second ACL tear from last September.

The fact he’s torn both ACLs will drop his draft stock, but he could still be a second-rounder. Many think his ability to rush from inside could push him even higher.

He said he’ll start seven straight days of visits to teams starting Sunday.

I felt real good out there,” Easley said. “I wanted to show them that I can move, that I still have the quickness, I still have my get-off and my tenacity in everything that I do.”

Easley has plenty of experience rehabbing, after tearing his left ACL in 2011 and then the right one last fall.

“He was very impressive,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “The [NFL scouts] all commented you could see what he does on tape in the workout. His competitive edge is one of his greatest talents.

“I think he’s got a great ceiling. . . .He would have been [a sure first-round pick]. It’s unfortunate, but his best football is ahead of him. I know one thing: Nobody is going to work harder than him to get it done. He’s got a great work ethic. He’s got a great competitive edge. All the intangibles are there.”

Imagine that. An SEC coach saying one of his star players has a good work ethic. Interesting concept.

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Johnson’s knee nothing unusual for six-year running back

Johnson AP

An intriguing slow-day skirmish has emerged regarding the status of the knee of Jets running back Chris Johnson.  Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported that the Jets have “some concerns” about the knee, and that it contains arthritis.  Johnson has said there’s no arthritis.

Here’s what we know, from a source close to the situation.

His knee is normal, for a player who has six years in the NFL at running back.  It would look no different under close scrutiny than the knee of any other running back who has spent six years in the NFL with significant use.  He has 2,014 regular-season offensive touches, an average of 335.6 per year.

Does his knee show wear and tear?  Of course it does.  Can he play on it?  Of course he can.

If the Jets had concerns, why would they have signed him?  G.M. John Idzik is conservative, thoughtful, and deliberate.  He’s not going to roll the dice with $3 million of owner Woody Johnson’s money.

“It flies in the face of common sense,” the source said.

There were, we’re told, no alarms or red flags.  While either or both knees could keep him from spending another decade in the NFL, the NFL is a year-to-year proposition.  For the coming year, the knee is good enough for Johnson to play at a high level.  Eventually, it won’t be.

But that’s no different than any other NFL running back.

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Montreal Alouettes sign Chad Johnson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

Chad Johnson will resume his football career in Canada.

The Montreal Alouettes said Thursday that Johnson had signed with their club, the CFL’s website reported. The Alouettes also tweeted a picture of Johnson ostensibly signing a contract with the team.

The 36-year-old Johnson participated in the Alouettes’ minicamp in Vero Beach, Florida before officially joining the CFL team. Johnson was out of football in 2013 after a summer stint with the Miami Dolphins in 2012.

Johnson spent more than a decade in the NFL, reaching stardom with Cincinnati (2001-2010). He also had a one-season run with New England (2011) before signing with Miami. The Dolphins released him after his arrest in connection with an altercation with his wife.

Johnson joins an Alouettes receiving corps which includes Duron Carter, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter. Ex-Jets wideout David Clowney is also on the Montreal roster.

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Chris Johnson disputes report of arthritis in knee

Knee Getty Images

Jets running back Chris Johnson had knee surgery earlier this year, but he nevertheless passed a physical on his way out the door in Tennessee and on his way in the door in New York.

Despite being healthy enough to play professional football, that could change in time.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Jets have “some concerns” about Johnson’s knee.  Schefter specifically reports that the knee has arthritis.  Which means that cartilage is either gone or disappearing.  Which means that Johnson could have chronic issues with the knee as his career continues.

Johnson disputed the report during his introductory conference call with the Jets.  Johnson said there’s no arthritis in his knee.

Either way, it hasn’t stopped the Jets from reportedly paying Johnson $3 million to sign.  Or from paying him another $1 million in salary this year.  But it could put a cap on the number of years that Johnson will be able to play, for the Jets or anyone.

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