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Saints fans not bailing out over bounty fiasco

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As NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to ponder the potential penalties to be imposed on the players involved in the bounty scandal, either by funding the pool or earning pieces of it, some think that Goodell may go easy in order to avoid a full-blown revolt of Saints fans.  Others wonder whether the league held the decisions on punishment beyond the March 16 deadline for renewing season tickets, in order to ensure that the fans wouldn’t scatter.

Either way, we’re told that a full 98 percent of the season-ticket holders have renewed.  That’s the highest renewal percentage the Saints ever have experienced.  And the waiting list continues to expand by roughly 50 callers per day.  Also, all suites have been sold out for 2012.

And so, while Saints fans understandably aren’t happy with the situation, they’re not turning their backs on the team.

It’s also believed they won’t turn their backs on the Super Bowl, which New Orleans will be hosting.  Even if Saints fans are mad at the league, they’ll rally around the Super Bowl, since it’s a New Orleans event.

On the topic of discipline to be imposed on Saints players, Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC’s Football Night in America joined PFT Live to discuss the subject, about which he recently wrote for SI.com.

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Calvin Johnson joins Raiders for first week of OTAs

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Ten years ago, the Raiders didn’t want Calvin Johnson. They now do. Sort of.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Johnson will join the Raiders during the first week of Organized Team Activities. He’ll attend as a guest of offensive coordinator Todd Downing.

It’s unclear whether Johnson will be observing or participating in any of the coaching. It’s also unclear whether Johnson is dipping his toe in the water regarding the possibility of coming back to football in a non-playing capacity.

The Raiders held the first overall pick in the draft in 2007. They took quarterback Jamarcus Russell, passing on Johnson and greasing the skids for a tailspin that the franchise finally is emerging from.

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Report: Tampa new favorite to host L.A.’s Super Bowl

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The record rains in Southern California might be costing more than a season of Rams and Chargers games.

With the league reluctant to play a Super Bowl in the first year of a new stadium, other contenders are now in the mix to host the 2021 Super Bowl.

According to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Tampa is now considered the “front-runner” to host the event, which would suggest the needed waiver to keep the game in L.A. isn’t likely after weather caused a year of construction delays.

A seasoned Super Bowl host, Tampa bid to host the game that was awarded to Los Angeles as a reward for the new stadium the Rams and Chargers will share.

New Orleans was also in the mix, but convention and Mardi Gras conflicts will keep them from hosting that year.

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Report: Fletcher Cox to return to Eagles OTAs next week

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The Eagles started this year’s slate of Organized Team Activities without defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in attendance, but it doesn’t sound like his absence is going to be an extended one.

Coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday that while he would expect Cox to be at the practices, the defensive tackle has a satisfactory reason for not being at the voluntary session. Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the reason is because he is spending the week with his family.

Berman also reports that Cox is expected back with the team next week as they continue OTAs and move closer to the end of their offseason schedule.

Left tackle Jason Peters was also missing from Tuesday’s practice and teammate Lane Johnson said, via Jeff McLane of the Inquirer, that he expects Peters will be back for the mandatory minicamp in June.

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Duane Brown skipping OTAs over contract

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Most offseason workouts are voluntary. Every team wants all players to attend every one of them.

In Houston, left tackle Duane Brown isn’t.

Via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Brown is staying away from Organized Team Activities due to displeasure with his contract.

Brown has two years left on his current deal, which is due to pay out a non-guaranteed amount of $9.65 million in 2017 and $9.75 million in 2018. None of it is guaranteed.

Wilson notes that the Texans don’t renegotiate contracts with two years remaining on them.

The Texans have a variety of contractual situations to address unrelated to Brown. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and he deserves a new one. Also, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is eligible for his second contract, and he could begin to clamor for a new deal at any time.

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Roberto Aguayo fails in first public head-to-head with Nick Folk

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Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo has taken another step toward becoming former Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo.

Via JoeBucsFan.com, the second-year, second-round pick missed “at least three” of four field goal tries during a Tuesday OTA session. The good news is that the goal posts were narrower than normal. The bad news is that recently-signed veteran Nick Folk went four-for-four on the same narrow posts.

As noted by JoeBucsFan.com, practice “went silent” after Aguayo missed for the third time: “Ninety players plus coaches, many just BSing and drinking water during the kicking period, were quiet.”

For a position that ultimately will be counted on to perform under pressure, failing to perform under the pressure of the first open practice with Folk on the field won’t help Aguayo convince the Bucs to keep him around.

The outcome makes it even more likely that the Buccaneers ultimately will be paying Aguayo $428,000 to kick elsewhere than paying Folk $750,000 to make like a tree and get out of here.

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Mike Glennon: This is my year, not worried about 2018

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When the Bears signed quarterback Mike Glennon to a three-year deal as a free agent this offseason, most people assumed that he’d be getting most of that time as the starter in Chicago with a chance for a longer run if he played well.

That outlook changed when the Bears traded up to the No. 2 pick so they could select Mitchell Trubisky in last month’s draft. Now the questions aren’t about whether Glennon is the long-term answer at the position but about how long it will be before the Bears turn to Trubisky.

Glennon said Tuesday that the team has told him it is his team this year and that he’s not thinking about anything beyond that as a result.

“This year is my year and I’m not going to worry about the future,” Glennon said, via Zach Zaidman of the team’s radio network.

Glennon also said that he would have still signed with the Bears even if he knew Trubisky was going to be the pick, which may sound like a stretch but Glennon signed a deal that the Bears that offered the team an easy out after this season so he was going to have to play well to keep his job under any circumstances. If he does, he’ll get a shot in Chicago or somewhere else and that’s more than enough reason to keep focus on himself rather than the rookie waiting in the wings.

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Report: Michael Oher planning to show for minicamp, play this year

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Panthers tackle Michael Oher wasn’t with his teammates Tuesday, but he’s expecting to be there soon, and to play this season.

While Oher didn’t report for the start of the Panthers Organized Team Activities Tuesday amid reports he’s not in the best of shape, in addition to coming off a concussion which kept him out of all but three games last season.

According to David Newton of ESPN.com, Oher plans to show up for a mandatory minicamp in mid-June, and also plans to play this year if he’s cleared through the concussion protocol.

Oher’s still working out, and team officials have praised his comeback efforts.

But they’re also planning for life without him, in case he doesn’t.

The Panthers signed left tackle Matt Kalil in free agency, and used a second-round pick for Taylor Moton to compete for he starting right tackle job.

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Sheldon Richardson: There are “15 reasons” locker room is better this year

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After a blowout loss to the Patriots late last season, Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson said then-teammate Brandon Marshall should be “embarrassed” in comments that were related to words Marshall had for his teammates at halftime of the game.

It wasn’t the first time that Richardson and Marshall locked horns during a dismal season on and off the field for the Jets. It appears Marshall’s departure this offseason hasn’t led Richardson to let sleeping dogs lie.

Richardson spoke to reporters after the start of Organized Team Activities and made a pointed reference to the Jets’ former No. 15 when discussing why the locker room is a better place this year.

“Let’s just say there are 15 reasons why it’s better,” Richardson said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

The locker room may be a more pleasant place for Richardson these days, but there’s only so much impact that will have on the season to come. Marshall’s play was a leading reason why the Jets won 10 games in 2015 and Richardson’s would have a hard time convincing people that his poor play last season can be written off because he didn’t get along with one of his teammates.

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Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy dead at 48

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The football world received some sad news from Florida on Tuesday.

The Orlando Police Department announced that Pro Football Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy has died at the age of 48. A cause of death has not been announced, but a member of the Orlando Police Department told the Blytheville Courier News in Arkansas, Kennedy’s home state, that there is nothing suspicious at this point.

“We can confirm his passing and at this time there is nothing suspicious to report but we are conducting an investigation regarding his unattended passing,” Sgt. Wanda Miglio said.

Kennedy went to the Seahawks with the third pick of the 1990 NFL Draft after completing a stellar career at the University of Miami and made his first Pro Bowl the next year. Kennedy would go on to be named first-team All-Pro three times, win the defensive player of the year award in 1992 and take a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1990s. He retired after the 2000 season and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2012.

Our condolences go out to Kennedy’s family and friends on their loss.

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Goodell tells players they can make snow angels, use the ball as a prop

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has officially informed players that the league is backing off its heavy-handed approach to penalizing celebrations.

In a letter to players, Goodell wrote that previously penalized celebrations, including making snow angels, using the ball as a prop and engaging in group demonstrations, will now be legal.

“Today, we are excited to tell you about another change that comes after conversations with more than 80 current and former players: we are relaxing our rules on celebrations to allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays,” Goodell wrote. “We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown. And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.”

The league will still penalize some celebrations, including “offensive demonstrations, celebrations that are prolonged and delay the game, and those directed at an opponent.”

That’s just common sense. Last year the league went way too far in policing celebrations. This year players will be encouraged to have a little fun.

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Rod Streater visiting Bills

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The Bills may not be done tweaking their wide receiver corps.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team is visiting with Rod Streater on Tuesday. The visit comes with Sammy Watkins continuing to rehab from foot surgery and a week after the team announced second-round pick Zay Jones is dealing with a knee injury.

Streater spent last season with the 49ers and saw action in all 16 games after playing in just four games for the Raiders over the previous two seasons. He had 18 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns for the Niners.

Those numbers aren’t anything that will bowl anyone over, but the Bills aren’t overloaded with strong options at receiver at the moment. Philly Brown, Andre Holmes, Walter Powell and Jeremy Butler make up the rungs on the depth chart below Watkins and Jones.

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Overtime shortened to 10 minutes

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NFL owners did not take PFT’s generously offered advice.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, owners voted to shorten overtime from 15 minutes to 10.

The effort was presented as a player safety issue, as an extra five minutes of football after 70 can generally be considered to be too much.

If last year had been played under such rules, the playoffs would have looked different, as Tampa Bay’s late loss to the Raiders would have ended in a tie, and would have put the Bucs in the postseason instead of the Lions.

Three other games were won in the final five minutes of overtime, with the Steelers beating the Browns, the Dolphins beating the Bills, and the Chiefs overcoming the Broncos.

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Report: David Irving facing four-game PED suspension

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The Cowboys dealt with suspensions for a pair of defensive ends at the start of last season and another member of the position group may be in that position this year.

Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan in Dallas reports that Irving is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Fisher adds that Irving is expected to appeal a suspension that Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports was triggered by the use of a supplement made by a company that signed him to a marketing deal.

Irving joined the Cowboys in 2015 after breaking into the NFL with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent. He played 12 games for the team that year and played 15 games last year, including a Week Six win over the Packers that saw Irving force three fumbles. He had four sacks and four forced fumbles overall on the year.

Tyrone Crawford, Demarcus Lawrence, Benson Mayowa and first-round pick Taco Charlton are other options at defensive end for the Cowboys whether or not Irving is available for the start of the season.

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Owners approve measure to add another return from IR spot

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Teams hit by injuries (which would be all of them) now have a little more flexibility.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, owners approved a measure which would add a second player per team to return from injured reserve.

The designated-for-return device gives teams options for guys who could miss a few months, but not the entire year.

And now, they’ll be able to double their use of it. Last year, for instance, the Cardinals had to decide whether to bring back safety Tyvon Branch or running back Chris Johnson after both went on IR the same day with hernias, ultimately bringing Branch back and shelving Johnson for the rest of the season.

Likewise, any shot the Patriots might have thought they had of getting Rob Gronkowski back late in the season went away when they activated Jacoby Brissett.

Now, teams won’t have to choose.

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Jaguars, Patriots to practice together in preseason

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The stakes won’t be the same as the two times they met in the Super Bowl, but Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick will have their teams on the same field again this summer.

Discussions about joint practices leading up to the preseason game between the Jaguars and Patriots on August 10 have resulted in an agreement. The two teams will practice together on August 7 and 8 in Foxborough before facing off at Gillette Stadium.

“Having the opportunity to practice with the defending world champions to begin our preseason schedule will be beneficial for our football team,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “We appreciate Coach Belichick extending the invitation to our organization.”

The Jaguars announced that both practices will be open to the public. The Patriots have also talked to the Texans about joint practices, but nothing has been made official at this point.

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