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Patriots sign Visanthe Shiancoe

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Visanthe Shiancoe is heading to New England.

After drawing interest from both the Patriots and the Eagles, Shiancoe has signed this evening with the Patriots. A league source tells PFT it’s a one-year, $1.2 million deal with $400,000 guaranteed and another $800,000 in incentives.

A free agent tight end who has played the last five seasons with the Vikings, Shiancoe started 14 games in Minnesota and caught 36 passes for 409 yards last season. The 32-year-old Shiancoe has played all 16 games every season of his nine-year NFL career.

In New England, Shiancoe joins a very crowded tight end depth chart that also includes Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, plus two players currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard.

With Shiancoe now in New England, the Eagles may turn their attention toward free agent tight end Jeremy Shockey, whom they were considering bringing in for a visit today before calling that meeting off when Shiancoe came for a visit.

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Report: James Harrison not likely to sign with Cardinals

James Harrison AP

A notable ex-Steeler doesn’t appear to be headed to Pittsburgh West.

Free agent outside linebacker James Harrison isn’t likely to sign with the Arizona Cardinals at this time, Harrison’s agent, Bill Parise, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Parise told Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic the two sides couldn’t reach agreement on a deal.

“Couldn’t make the numbers work,” Parise said, according to the Republic.

The 36-year-old Harrison appeared in 15 games (10 starts) for Cincinnati in 2013, notching 30 tackles. His best seasons came with the Steelers, for whom he was a five-time Pro Bowler.

Current Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was a Pittsburgh assistant for much of Harrison’s tenure with the club, and Arizona has been a landing spot for other ex-Steelers in recent years. But for now, Harrison won’t be added to that list.

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Redskins cut eight players

Andre Roberts, Richard Crawford AP

The Redskins began cutting their way to 53 players on Friday by parting ways with eight members of the roster.

That group includes cornerback Richard Crawford, who was a 2012 seventh-round pick of the team. He played 10 games as a rookie, recording 18 tackles and an interception while also returning eight punts for an average of 19.5 yards per return. He missed all of last season with a knee injury and retains practice squad eligibility thanks to this year’s change in the rules.

Washington also waived safety Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, guard/center Tevita Stevens, tight end Ted Bolser, punter Robert Malone, center Kevin Kowalski, wide receiver Lee Doss and defensive tackle Robert Thomas.

The Redskins roster now stands at 67 players, leaving 14 more moves to make before Saturday’s deadline.

 

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Josh Gordon hasn’t ruled out litigation, yet

Gordon AP

A lawyer who apparently isn’t too busy to check out PFT (and we appreciate that) has floated an intriguing theory about the out-of-the-blue decision by Browns receiver Josh Gordon to seek permission to play in the land of Labatt Blue.

Did Gordon ask to play in Canada knowing that the request would be denied, so that he in turn could bolster an effort to seek an injunction preventing the implementation of his suspension via a lawsuit challenging the suspension?

Those facts would help show what the law calls “irreparable harm,” one of the key factors that must exist for a court tell a party who wants to do something to not do it until the case has ended.  Gordon currently is caught in a vise, unable to play for the Browns and also not permitted while suspended to play for anyone else.  While that may not win the day, it’s one of those real-world facts that could cause a judge to conclude that Josh has gotten jobbed.

Of course, none of that is relevant unless and until Gordon sues.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon’s legal team is still exploring the possibility of filing suit.

Time is running out.  Practice in advance of the Week One game at Pittsburgh begins on Wednesday.  Courts will likely be shut down until Tuesday, given the holiday weekend.  If Gordon wants to get an order allowing him to practice and play, he needs to move a lot more quickly than, say, the NFL did in resolving his appeal.

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Tyrann Mathieu will tackle in practice this week

Tyrann Mathieu AP

The Cardinals activated safety Tyrann Mathieu from the PUP list on August 19, leaving the date of his regular season debut as the biggest question left to answer in Mathieu’s return from a torn ACL.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he wanted to see Mathieu play in the preseason finale if he was going to face the Chargers on the first Monday night of the season. Mathieu didn’t play in that game, but Arians left the door open for Mathieu to play because the second-year man will take part in tackling drills during Arizona’s padded practice next week.

“I wasn’t kidding,” Arians said regarding his earlier comments about Mathieu playing in Week One. “We’ll see how he tackles, though.”

Mathieu is hopeful that Arians, General Manager Steve Keim and the medical staff will feel that he’s ready to hit the field, but Darren Urban of the team’s website marks himself down as “doubtful” that we’ll be seeing Mathieu against Philip Rivers and company. Even if he misses that game, it shouldn’t be too long before Mathieu is back in the Cardinals secondary.

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Greg Jones released by Saints

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

The Saints brought veteran fullback Greg Jones aboard early in camp after Erik Lorig went down with a leg injury, but he won’t be helping to open holes or protect Drew Brees this season.

Nick Underhill of the Baton Rouge Advocate reports that Jones has been released as the team starts the process of paring the roster down to 53 players.

With Lorig’s status for the regular season still up in the air as he continues to battle his injury, the Saints opted to go with Austin Johnson over Jones at fullback. It’s a somewhat surprising development because Johnson entered the NFL as a linebacker in 2012.

Johnson had played fullback during his first two years at the University of Tennessee, but tried and failed to make the Ravens on defense. The Saints signed him last year, moved him back to offense and he spent the year on the practice squad.

Jones has played 10 seasons in the NFL, nine with the Jaguars and the 2013 campaign with the Texans, so his experience may be appealing to teams looking for a different fullback.

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Rams cut 17 players, but none of them were Michael Sam

Michael Sam AP

Michael Sam became the reality show of the NFL Draft weekend, as the nation waited to see if someone would draft an openly gay player.

It appears draft weekend could turn out the same way.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the Rams have cut 17 players today, but none of them were Sam.

Among the cuts were defensive linemen Kourtnei Brown and Deantre Harlan, along with sixth-round quarterback Garrett Gilbert and seventh-round tackle Mitchell Van Dyk.

That would move them to 58, with five cuts to go to the limit.

And the world will be watching to see if Sam makes history.

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Aldon Smith’s case rockets through the NFL legal system

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For Browns receiver Josh Gordon, the wheels of NFL justice moved sssslowly.  He became aware of the one-year suspension in early May, at the latest.  His appeal hearing ended on August 4.  He learned his fate on August 27.

For 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, things moved much more quickly.  He was sentenced on multiple weapons charges and DUI on July 18.  He met with the Commissioner in early August.  Now, barely three weeks later, the process has been fully and finally resolved, with Smith suspended under both the personal-conduct policy and the substance-abuse policy.

While some have reported that Aldon Smith exhausted his appeal rights, the more likely explanation is that he waived them as part of the punishment under both policies.  For Smith, no mention was made of appeal rights in the NFL’s announcement; for Ravens running back Ray Rice, the suspension was imposed under the personal-conduct policy, and the announcement expressly declared that he has the right to appeal it.

Also, for any discipline under the substance-abuse policy, the player is entitled to an appeal hearing like the one Gordon had, followed by a potentially protracted wait for a ruling.  In the interim, the player is entitled to play.

Given the speed with which this one moved, and given the potentially complicated interplay between the two policies, it’s reasonable to deduce that Smith waived his appeal rights — possibly in exchange for the league’s decision to allow him to continue to come to the facility while suspended, a courtesy that is available to players suspended for less than a year under the substance-abuse policy but not to players suspended under the personal-conduct policy.

Who knows?  The consideration extended to Smith in exchange for apparently waiving his appeal rights could extend to a potential reduction of the suspension, if he manages to stay out of trouble.  Based on his history, that could be a fairly large if.

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Steelers claim a corner the Cowboys didn’t want — really

Dallas Cowboys v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

Friday afternoon is the time to drop shocking news in the NFL, in hopes that no one notices.

Thus, someone claimed a defensive player the Cowboys didn’t want off waivers.

The Steelers announced they claimed cornerback B.W. Webb off waivers, and placed linebacker Jordan Zumwalt on injured reserve.

The 2013 fourth-round pick was best known for having a helmet swung at him during a joint practice with the Raiders.

To be honest, that’s probably a bad sign for a recent fourth-round pick for a team that stinks on defense.

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Falcons drop to 63 players

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Earlier on Friday, a few of the moves the Falcons made to get down to 53 players were announced via sources other than the team.

The team has confirmed those cuts — linebacker Pat Angerer, running back Josh Vaughn, tackle Pat McQuistan, linebacker Yawin Smallwood and fullback Maurice Hagens — and announced seven more. The moves leave the Falcons with 63 players and 10 more moves to make before Saturday’s deadline.

Some of the names among the seven other players cut may be familiar to avid Falcons or Hard Knocks fans, but all of them were long shots to wind up on the final roster. They are defensive end Nosa Eguae, cornerback Jordan Mabin, wide receiver Freddie Martino (pictured), safety Kimario McFadden, tight end Jacob Pedersen, offensive lineman Adam Replogle and defensive tackle Donte Rumph.

Mabin and Replogle were members of the Falcons practice squad last season while the other players were signed as undrafted free agents after being passed over in May.

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Jaguars cut Mike Brewster on way to 57 players

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The Jaguars signaled their desire to find a new center early in the offseason when they tried to sign Alex Mack away from the Browns and their failure to land their target hasn’t stopped them from moving on from the No. 1 man on the depth chart when camp opened.

Mike Brewster was cut on Friday as the Jaguars started making their way to the 53-man limit ahead of Saturday’s deadline. All told, the Jags made 18 moves on Friday to leave themselves with 57 players.

The Jags haven’t made a formal announcement about who will be starting at center for them this season, but Jacques McClendon got the nod in the team’s third preseason game with Luke Bowanko starting on Thursday night in the preseason finale. Brewster played 26 games and made 10 starts for the Jaguars last season.

In addition to the previously reported dismissal of quarterback Stephen Morris, the Jaguars also waived quarterback Ricky Stanzi, fullback Eric Kettani, guard Drew Nowak, defensive end Gerald Rivers, wide receiver Chad Bumphis, tackle Cody Booth, defensive lineman DeAndre Coleman, defensive tackle Ricky Havili-Heimuli, safety Craig Loston, kicker/punter Kasey Redfern, guard Tyler Shatley, tight end D.J. Tialavea and linebacker Marcus Whitfield. Tight end Brandon Barden was waived-injured with a groin injury.

Jacksonville wound up the day’s moves by placing wide receiver Tandon Doss and cornerback Rashaad Reynolds on injured reserve after they were hurt in the preseason finale against the Falcons.

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Jim Irsay agrees to plea deal

Jim Irsay AP

Colts owner Jim Irsay and Indianapolis prosecutors have reached an agreement on a plea deal related to Irsay’s impaired driving arrest.

The prosecutor’s office confirmed to the Indianapolis Star that Irsay, who previously pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges, will change his plea next week.

“I can confirm that Mr. Irsay’s case has been set for a change of plea hearing on Tuesday, September 2nd at 11:00 a.m. in Hamilton Superior Court IV,” Andre Miksha, a spokesman for the Hamilton County prosecutor said. “I cannot provide any details of — or even verify the existence of — an agreement unless and until one would be tendered to the Court at such a hearing.”

Prosecutors say that when Irsay was pulled over on March 16, he had “oxycodone and/or hydrocodone” in his system and officers “continuously had to support Irsay in order to prevent him from falling over.”

Irsay is expected to face league discipline, but such discipline has not yet been announced.

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Ravens make first cuts on way to 53 players

Nathan Overbay, Stanley Jean-Baptiste AP

The Ravens have started the process of whittling down their roster to 75 players by releasing five guys who were long shots to make the roster this summer.

Baltimore announced that tight end Nathan Overbay (pictured), linebacker D.J. Roberts, center Reggie Stephens, defensive tackle Levi Brown and defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins have all been waived.

Overbay spent time on Houston’s practice squad last year and has bounced around the NFL since 2010. Stephens was on Baltimore’s practice squad in 2013 and has also made the rounds since entering the league as a 2010 seventh-round pick. The other three players were signed as undrafted free agents this spring.

The moves bring the Ravens to 70 players, leaving them with 17 more moves to make before Saturday’s deadline. Two of those moves will likely be taken care of when running back Ray Rice and safety Will Hill are placed on the suspended list. Defensive tackle Terrance Cody remains on the PUP list and transferring him to the regular season version would take care of one more bit of roster housekeeping in Baltimore.

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Bills’ initial cuts include Jordan Palmer, Brian Moorman

Palmer Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have commenced the process of trimming the roster from 75 to 53.  To get there, the Bills got rid of one of their newest and oldest players.

Gone is quarterback Jordan Palmer, who signed with the Bills earlier this week.  Also gone is punter Brian Moorman, who spent 11-plus seasons with the team before being cut in 2012 and then re-signing with the Bills in 2013.

The Bills also have released linebacker Xavius Boyd, defensive tackle Landon Cohen, tight end Dominique Jones, cornerback Kamaal McIlwain, cornerback Sam Miller, fullback Evan Rodriguez, receiver Naaman Roosevelt, and center Jared Wheeler.

All teams must be at 53 teams by Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET.

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Aldon Smith hit with nine-game suspension

Smith Getty Images

The NFL made a statement yesterday against domestic violence, and today’s is about repeat offenders.

The NFL announced that 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith was suspended for nine games for violating the NFL’s policies on substance abuse and personal conduct.

Smith will be eligible to return on Nov. 10, but that means the team will play half the season or more without two of their best defensive players. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman is coming back from a knee injury in the playoffs, and isn’t expected back until mid-season.

Smith has been one of the league’s best pass-rushers in recent years, with 42.0 sacks in 43 games.

But he’s also been a persistent off-field headache, with a DUI from last September leading to a stint in rehab. The league said they’d take his voluntary leave into consideration when deciding penalties, but they’re not in a lenient mode at the moment after admitting they screwed up the Ray Rice penalty.

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Bolts bounce cornerback Crezdon Butler

Butler AP

Cornerback Crezdon Butler was believed to be on the roster bubble in San Diego.  He was.

Per a league source, the Chargers have released Butler.  A fifth-round pick of the Steelers in 2010, Butler has played for the Cardinals (2011), Washington (2012), Cardinals again (2012), Bills (2012) and Chargers (2013).

Despite no career starts, Butler appeared in 12 regular-season games last year for San Diego and both postseason games.  With four accrued seasons, he instantly becomes a free agent.

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