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Mutiny of the bounty, Monday edition

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It’s Monday.  Welcome back to work.  Before the boss starts looking over your shoulder, here’s a chance to get caught up on one of the biggest scandals in NFL history, which the league wisely slipped through the late Friday afternoon five hole.

Right after you turned off your computer and headed home for a weekend of not surfing the Internet on your own time.

You’re likely feeling a little inadequate right now, because you don’t know the details as well as you’d like.  That’s why we’re going to take you on a quick tour of the 29 bounty-related stories that have been posted here since Friday.

Yep, while you weren’t working, we were.

Then again, this really ain’t work.

It all started with a bolt-from-the-blue press release.  The league has concluded that the Saints ran from 2009 through 2011 a system of payments to defensive players for, among other things, inflicting injury on opponents.

Coach Sean Payton knew about the program, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams administered it.

Bounties fueled the Saints’ 2009 playoff run. The Vikings, who lost to the Saints in the 2009 NFC championship after linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to whoever knocks Brett Favre out of the game, aren’t talking, but plenty of you believe the news taints the Saints’ Super Bowl win.

Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner’s final game included being blown up by former Saints defensive end Bobby McCray a week before the Vikings-Saints playoff.  Warner nevertheless thinks bounties have been part of the NFL for a long time.

The NFL insists Saints owner Tom Benson didn’t know about the bounties.  In what likely will be regarded in time as one of the great sports-related understatements, Benson issued a statement calling the findings “troubling.”

Williams has confessed, even though former Saints safety Darren Sharper apparently didn’t get the memo.  In a statement issued through his new employer, the Rams, Williams called it a “terrible mistake,” and he said “we knew it was wrong while we were doing it.”

Which, by definition, means it wasn’t a mistake.

It’s also harder to accept the notion that it was a mistake, given allegations that Williams apparently ran a bounty program when he worked for the Redskins and the Bills.  The league will investigate the situation in Washington.

Former Colts coach Tony Dungy told PFT on Friday night that the Titans had a bounty on Peyton Manning, whose ongoing neck problems possibly trace to a hit he took from the Redskins in 2006, under Williams.

The league says it’s not aware of bounties in any other cities, and former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs says he didn’t know about any of it in D.C.  This means either that the investigators didn’t ask Williams if he used bounties before his time with the Saints, or that they asked him and he denied it.  Regardless, they’ll be asking Williams about it on Monday.

Speaking of denials, the investigation regarding the Saints nearly died on the vine because everyone involved said it didn’t happen.  Now that the league has found evidence that the bounty program did indeed exist, those who were dishonest to the investigators should face enhanced penalties.

Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis also apparently lied to owner Tom Benson, and Loomis definitely failed to put the practice to an end once Loomis was told to do so by Benson.  The fact that Loomis reportedly won’t be fired for such a flagrant example of insubordination invites speculation that Loomis is simply covering for Benson.

Benson’s own punishment likely will consist of a hefty fine imposed on his team and a forfeiture of draft picks, even though the team traded in 2011 its first-round pick in 2012.  (If the NFL really wants to punish the Saints, the league should take away its franchise tag.)

Lengthy suspensions are expected for Williams, Loomis, and coach Sean Payton, along with multiple players.  The expected absence of key members of the organization as of Week One helps explain the team’s decision to volunteer for the Hall of Fame game, which will give them two extra weeks and one extra preseason game to get ready for the inevitable absence of people like Payton.

A decision on punishment will be made by the March 25 league meetings.  The NFLPA has vowed to review the NFL’s report, but the union has taken no position on the situation, yet.

Some wonder whether a few extra dollars makes a difference to a highly-compensated pro football player.  Apparently, it does.  Which makes cash money the NFL’s equivalent of a helmet sticker.

Of course, helmet stickers don’t constitute taxable income.  Cash money does, and the IRS could start poking around.

Other law-enforcement agencies could get involved as the situation unfolds.  This story is far closer to the beginning than the end, and we’ll be following it every step of the way.

Now, get back to work.

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Michael Sam expects “a long and successful career”

michaelsam AP

Shortly after he was released by the Rams, Michael Sam said he sees today as just a minor setback.

Sam wrote on Twitter that he still believes he’s going to make it in the NFL, even if he didn’t make the Rams’ 53-man roster after today’s final cuts.

“I want to thank the entire Rams organization and the city of St. Louis for giving me this tremendous opportunity and allowing me to show I can play at this level. I look forward to continuing to build on the progress I made here toward a long and successful career,” Sam wrote.

Sam played well enough in the preseason that he has a chance to get picked up on waivers by some other NFL team. If so, he’ll be on a 53-man roster heading into Week One of the NFL season.

If Sam isn’t claimed on waivers, he may be signed to the Rams’ practice squad, or he could end up on another team’s practice squad. So Sam will likely get another opportunity to try to make it in the NFL. Even if he fell short on his first opportunity.

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All 32 teams are down to 53 players

maurkice AP

The toughest day of the year for NFL players on the roster bubble has come and gone, and all 32 teams are now down to the 53-player roster limit.

About 700 players were released, placed on injured reserve or otherwise removed from active rosters today, and we have all their names in our 53-man roster tracker. Those who remain are on 53-man rosters.

But those rosters are not final, and this weekend’s business in the NFL isn’t done: Dozens of waiver claims and free agent signings will happen on Sunday, and that means dozens more players will have to be cut to make room for those players who are changing teams.

And then teams will begin assembling their practice squads, with about 300 of the players who were cut today finding out that they’ll have jobs in the NFL after all, albeit jobs that don’t pay quite as well as active-roster spots.

Bottom line: It’s been a busy day. And it’s just the start of a busy NFL weekend. And just the appetizer for next week’s much more fun NFL weekend.

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Raiders the last team to announce cuts, such that it matters

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As per custom, the Raiders were the last team to announce their cuts, rolling in three hours after the league’s deadline to submit them.

There wasn’t what you’d call a surprise among the group, though they did cut veteran wideout Greg Little.

The rest of their cuts include wide receiver Seth Roberts, kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, running back George Atkinson III, running back Jeremy Stewart, fullback Karl Williams, guard Lamar Mady, offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw, tackle Jack Cornell, tight end Jake Murphy, tight end Scott Simonson, tackle Dan Kistler, tackle Erle Ladson, defensive end Jack Crawford, defensive end Denico Autry, defensive end Ryan Robinson, linebacker Carlos Fields, linebacker Spencer Hadley, linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu, defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin, safety Brandian Ross and cornerback Casey Chance.

But hey, they were the last ones to reveal their cuts. So there should be an award or something.

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Kendall James, Kain Colter, Chris Crocker among Vikings cuts

JEROME SIMPSON,KENDALL JAMES AP

Sixth-round pick Kendall James was among the Vikings’ 19 cuts on Saturday, the club announced.

A cornerback from Maine, James is eligible to be added to a practice squad if he clears waivers.

Other Vikings cuts included undrafted rookie wide receiver Kain Colter and veteran safeties Kurt Coleman and Chris Crocker.

The Vikings also parted ways with guard Jeff Baca, defensive tackle Chase Baker, running back Joe Banyard, defensive tackle Fred Evans, defensive tackle Isame Faciane, tight end Chase Ford, wide receiver Donte Foster, linebacker Justin Jackson, center Zac Kerin, cornerback Julian Posey, tight end Allen Reisner, offensive tackle Mike Remmers, defensive end Justin Trattou, tailback Dominique Williams and linebacker Mike Zimmer. The release of Evans was reported earlier Saturday.

The Vikings also announced they had placed safety Jamarca Sanford and offensive tackle Antonio Richardson on injured reserve. The transactions leave Minnesota at the 53-player limit.

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Seahawks cut roster down to 53 players

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The Seattle Seahawks terminated the contracts of two veterans, placed one player on injured reserve and waived 20 players to reach their roster limit on Saturday.

The Indianapolis Colts announced earlier in the day they had traded cornerback Marcus Burley to the Seahawks in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2015. That led Seattle to have to let go of 23 players to get to the maximum of 53 players by the 1 p.m. PT deadline.

Seattle terminated the contracts of cornerback Phillip Adams and offensive tackle Eric Winston. They placed defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith on injured reserve and waived tight end RaShaun Allen, cornerback Akeem Auguste, running back Demitrius Bronson, wide receiver Arceto Clark, quarterback B.J. Daniels, guard Caylin Hauptmann, tackle Nate Isles, center Patrick Lewis, wide receiver Chris Matthews, defensive end Benson Mayowa, safety Terrance Parks, tight end Morrell Presley, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, defensive tackle Andru Pulu, fullback Kiero Small, defensive tackle Jimmy Staten, safety Steven Terrell, linebacker Korey Toomer, wide receiver Bryan Walters and running back Spencer Ware.

Toomer, Ware, Staten and Small are all former Seattle draft picks.

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Cardinals trim roster to 53

Bruce Arians AP

Twenty players were released, one was given an injury settlement and one was moved to injured reserve as the Cardinals got down to 53 on their roster today.

Arizona announced that the following players were cut: RB Zach Bauman, LB Marcus Benard, G Philip Blake, LB Jonathan Brown, WR Dan Buckner, C John Estes, DT Bruce Gaston, WR Brittan Golden, TE Andre Hardy, CB Jimmy Legree, CB Bryan McCann, T Kelvin Palmer, RB Jalen Parmele, DT Isaac Sopoaga, G Anthony Steen, S Curtis Taylor, LB Adrian Tracy, DT Christian Tupou, S Anthony Walters and CB Teddy Williams.

The Cardinals also released tackle Nate Potter with an injury settlement after he hurt his shoulder, and placed safety Eddie Whitley on injured reserve with a broken foot.

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Buccaneers finish up cuts, let Major Wright go

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Safety Major Wright was supposed to be one of the guys to help spread Lovie Smith’s message in Tampa Bay, but he won’t be doing that now.

The veteran safety was one of the final eight roster cuts made by the Buccaneers, as they reached the 53-man roster limit.

Wright was signed in April after spending three years with the Bears, three as a starter. His last year under Smith in Chicago was his best, with four interceptions.

But with Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson starting, they elected to go with some younger players to back up and play special teams.

The Buccaneers also released tight end Cameron Brate, running back Jeff Demps, quarterback Mike Kafka, linebacker Brandon Magee, defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo, wide receiver Solomon Patton and defensive tackle Ronald Talley.

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Packers keep three quarterbacks

Scott Tolzien, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn AP

Reports on Saturday indicated the Packers were only going to keep two quarterbacks on their initial 53-man roster, but those reports have been proven incorrect.

The Packers unveiled their roster on Saturday afternoon and it includes Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien. Both Flynn and Tolzien saw time with the Packers offense as they cycled through options after Rodgers was injured. Having two guys on hand will lead to less scrambling if things unfold that way again this year, although one imagines Green Bay would rather just have Rodgers in there all 16 games.

Green Bay got down to 53 players by cutting safety Chris Banjo, wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, linebacker Jake Doughty, tackle John Fullington, center Garth Gerhart, wide receiver Alex Gillett, defensive tackle Carlos Gray, running back Michael Hill, linebacker Adrian Hubbard, guard Jordan McCray, safety Tanner Miller, tight end Justin Perillo, running back LaDarius Perkins, defensive end Luther Robinson, cornerback Jumal Rolle, tackle Jeremy Vujnovich, wide receiver Myles White and cornerback Ryan White.

They also placed tackle Aaron Adams, linebacker Nate Palmer, tight end Jake Stoneburner and defensive tackle Khyri Thornton, a 2014 third-round pick, on injured reserve.

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49ers reach 53-man roster limit

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The San Francisco 49ers are the latest team to reach the NFL-mandated limit of 53 players on the roster.

San Francisco announced that 19 players were released on Saturday: T Carter Bykowski, TE Asante Cleveland, WR Lance Lewis, LS Kevin McDermott, CB Darryl Morris, G Al Netter, DL Lawrence Okoye, WR Kassim Osgood, T Michael Philipp, NT Mike Purcell, G Ryan Seymour, LB Shayne Skov, RB Alfonso Smith, G Adam Snyder, S C.J. Spillman, LB Chase Thomas, S Bubba Ventrone, WR L’Damian Washington and RB Glenn Winston.

The 49ers also placed cornerback Kenneth Acker and fullback Will Tukuafu on injured reserve.

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Broncos get to 53-man limit, keep just two QBs

Zac Dysert AP

The Broncos have a pretty good quarterback, so they’re only going to keep two.

The Broncos waived third quarterback Zac Dysert, leaving only Brock Osweiler and some guy named Peyton Manning.

Otherwise, the Broncos’ cuts were pretty by the book. They terminated the contracts of five veterans: Tight ends Jameson Konz and Cameron Morrah, cornerback Jerome Murphy and defensive linemen Brian Sanford and Kevin Vickerson.

They also waived 14 other players, placed rookie defensive end Kenny Anunike on injured reserve and kicker Matt Prater on reserve/suspended.

The waived players included: Linebacker Shaqil Barrett, running back Kapri Bibbs, safety John Boyett, linebacker L.J. Fort, wide receiver Bennie Fowler, defensive tackle Sione Fua, safety Duke Ihenacho, guard Ryan Miller, guard Vinston Painter, wide receiver Nathan Palmer, center Matt Paradis, tight end Gerell Robinson, cornerback Jordan Sullen and cornerback Louis Young.

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Browns announce initial 53-man roster

Connor Shaw, Austen Lane AP

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said recently that he thought the Browns should put Connor Shaw into the mix for the starting quarterback job.

The Browns may have seen the Gamecocks get steamrolled by Texas A&M on Thursday night or they may have just dismissed Spurrier’s NFL acumen based on his experience in Washington because they decided to move on from Shaw on Saturday.

The undrafted free agent was one of the players cut in Cleveland as the Browns set an initial 53-man roster that includes Rex Grossman as the third quarterback behind Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel.

In addition to the previously reported departures of running back Dion Lewis, wide receiver Nate Burleson, running back Chris Ogbonnaya and cornerback Leon McFadden, the Browns also parted ways with defensive back Josh Aubrey, defensive lineman Calvin Barnett, defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel, offensive lineman Justin Staples, offensive lineman Reid Fragel, offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey, offensive lineman Donald Hawkins, linebacker Zac Diles, linebacker Jamaal Westerman, tight end/fullback MarQueis Gray, offensive lineman Alex Parsons, offensive lineman Abasi Salimu, wide receiver Willie Snead and tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi. Cornerback Isaiah Trufant was placed on injured reserve.

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Stephen Hill’s agent disappointed in Ryan and Idzik, thinks Browns will be interested

Stephen Hill, Curtis Marsh AP

The Jets cut wide receiver Stephen Hill, a 2012 second-round pick, on Saturday and Hill’s agent Alan Herman was less than thrilled with the team’s decision.

Herman argued that the team’s quarterbacks and offensive schemes were to blame for his client’s struggles in his first two seasons. Hill had 45 catches and four touchdowns in 23 games for the Jets.

“He didn’t have a chance that first year with that whole Tim Tebow-Mark Sanchez fiasco,” Herman said, via USA Today. “His second year, Geno Smith was learning how to play quarterback. So they never threw the ball deep because they wanted to simplify things for Geno.”

No one will argue that the Jets have had good quarterback situations the last two years, but Hill’s hardly blameless. He had too many drops and too hard a time staying healthy to be a reliable part of any offense.

Hill’s big and fast, though, and that should land him other chances. Herman says he “would think” the Browns will be interested because of Josh Gordon’s suspension and head coach Mike Pettine’s previous relationship with Hill when both men were with the Jets. Herman also told Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer that he thinks Panthers wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl would have a positive impact on his client and much has been made this summer about the thin receiver depth chart in Carolina.

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Giants keep some young projects instead of veterans

Giants Jets Football AP

The Giants cut some big names, but kept some young players who fit their mold of finding talent in unusual places.

They were able to keep undrafted rookie wide receiver Corey Washington and defensive end Kerry Wynn, after explosive preseason performances.

Washington had 10 catches for 155 yards and four touchdowns (three game-winners), setting him up to be the Giants’ next Victor Cruz-level breakout star. Wynn had a pair of sacks, and replaced veteran Israel Idonije.

They’re great stories and that’s what this thing is all about,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, via the team’s official website. “Your needs are much deeper than seven picks in the draft or sometimes you’re not in position to help yourself in free agency because of the cap, so this is still the source. And when a young guy comes along and they look like they’ve got a high end, you’re excited about it. Especially when they work hard, they study hard, it’s important to them and they have great desire. You can see it on some of these kids’ faces that this means so much to them, and quite frankly it re-energizes me.”

In addition to the previously reported cuts of veteran quarterback Curtis Painter, fullback John Conner, tight end Kellen Davis and Idonije and placing wide receivers Trindon Holliday and Mario Manningham on injured reserve, the Giants waived-injured tackle Rogers Gaines, placed guard Eric Herman and cornerback Jayron Hosley on reserve/suspended and waived tackle Mark Asper, running back Michael Cox, defensive back Chandler Fenner, linebacker Dan Fox, running back Kendall Gaskins, defensive back Thomas Gordon, tackle Adam Gress, defensive back Bennett Jackson, guard Jamaal Johnson-Webb, linebacker Terrell Manning, defensive tackle Kelcie Quarles, defensive end Jordan Stanton, wide receiver Julian Talley and cornerback Bennett Jackson.

Jackson, a sixth-rounder from Notre Dame, was their only 2014 draft pick released.

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Bears cut Kelvin Hayden, set initial 53-man roster

Kelvin Hayden, Larry Fitzgerald AP

Cornerback Kelvin Hayden re-signed with the Bears after missing the entire 2013 season with a hamstring injury, but he won’t get a chance to play for them in 2014 unless the team has a change of heart.

Hayden was one of the players let go by the Bears on Saturday as they set their initial 53-man roster. The 2005 Colts second-round pick played 16 games for the Bears in 2012 and was competing for a backup cornerback job in Chicago this season, but Sherrick McManis and Demontre Hurst remain on the roster.

The Bears also released safety M.D. Jennings with an injury settlement and released defensive end Austen Lane.

In addition to the previously reported cuts, the Bears also waived wide receiver Josh Bellamy, defensive tackle Brandon Dunn, defensive tackle Tracy Robertson and cornerback Al Louis-Jean.

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Dolphins put Mike Pouncey on active 53-man roster

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When Dolphins center Mike Pouncey needed offseason hip surgery, there was talk that he’d have to miss most of the season. But the Dolphins think he’ll be back soon.

The Dolphins released their roster cuts today, and the big news was that Pouncey wasn’t involved in any transactions. He is on the 53-man roster, rather than the physically unable to perform list. That means the Dolphins expect him to play at some point in the first six weeks of the season.

Players waived by the Dolphins on Saturday included DT Isaako Aaitui, G David Arkin, C Sam Brenner, WR Kevin Cone, G Evan Finkenburg, CB Kevin Fogg, S Jordan Kovacs, QB Seth Lobato, TE Kyle Miller, DE Tevin Mims, DE D’Aundre Reed, K Jake Rogers, DT Garrison Smith, LB Andrew Wilson and TE Evan Wilson. Rookie free agent Kamal Johnson was placed on injured reserve and veteran offensive lineman Tony Hills had his contract terminated.

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