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Beefed-up DUI penalties would deter NFL drunk driving

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Earlier today, I argued that the league, the teams, and the NFLPA need to come together to solve the nagging problem of drunk driving by pro football players.

Though several of you correctly have pointed out that employers can do only so much to control the behavior of employees, the NFL can deter DUI incidents by dramatically increasing the punishment.

Currently, a first offense results in a fine equivalent to two game checks, barring aggravating circumstances.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the league has pushed hard for a two-game suspension for a first offense, but the union has resisted.  The source said that the parties had agreed to a one-game suspension plus a one-game fine last year for a first offense, but the finalization of that agreement has been bogged down by the parties’ inability to agree to the procedures for HGH testing.

Though the union should be protecting its players, why protect those who drive drunk?  As we learned today, the victims of drunk driving by members of the NFLPA can include other members of the NFLPA.  Maybe that tragedy will prompt enough members of the union to push leadership to agree to stiffer penalties.

The path to eliminating drunk driving from the NFL comes from eliminating those who drive drunk from the NFL.  We’ve previously argued that a first offense should result in a one-year suspension.  Harsh?  Yes.  But it would likely ensure that players will make the no-questions-asked call for a ride home if they are drunk.

If also would prompt teams like the Cowboys to shy away from bringing in to the local community players who have a history of driving drunk.

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Anthony Davis returns to 49ers active roster

San Francisco 49ers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

Offensive tackle Anthony Davis has officially been reinstated and placed on the 49ers’ active roster, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.

Davis sat out last season and had been on the team’s reserve-retired list. Last week, Davis said he’d submitted his letter of reinstatement to the NFL.

A first-round pick in 2010, Davis started all 71 games he played at right tackle before walking away last season. Though there had been speculation that Davis wanted the 49ers to trade or release him, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said this week that the 49ers and Davis had patched things up and that Davis was anxious to return.

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Eric Fisher gets $28.5 million fully guaranteed by March

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 28:  Julius Peppers #56 of the Green Bay Packers rushes against Eric Fisher #72 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field on September 28, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Chiefs 38-28.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Three years ago, the Chiefs thought enough of tackle Eric Fisher to make him the first pick in the draft. Now, they think enough of him to give him a four-year, $48 million extension.

Per a source with knowledge of the contract, $22 million is fully guaranteed at signing. By March 2017, $28.5 million will be fully guaranteed. There are another $11.5 million in injury-only guarantees.

The contract compares favorably to the market, which is a positive sign for Fisher given that he has yet to fully become the guy the Chiefs thought he would be. (Apparently, they think he’s close to becoming that guy.)

By way of comparison, Saints tackle Terron Amstead and Eagles tackle Lane Johnson got $20.8 million fully guaranteed at signing, and less than $28.5 million by the following March. Their total guarantees were $38 million and $35 million, respectively; Fisher’s is at $40 million.

Currently, the deal makes Fisher the fourth highest-paid tackle in the league. Washington tackle Trent Williams gets $13 million per year, Amstead gets $13 million per year, Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith gets $12.2 million per year.

Behind Fisher are Bills tackle Cordy Glenn at $11.5 million per year, Browns tackle Joe Fisher at $11.5 million per year, Johnson at $11.25 million per year, and Colts tackle Anthony Castonzo at $10.9 million per year.

The extension, added with the balance of his rookie contract, puts Fisher under contract for six years at $63.33 million.

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Ankle to keep Nkemdiche out two weeks

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #29 overall by the Arizona Cardinalsduring the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cardinals rookie defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche will miss about two weeks with a high ankle sprain, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters Saturday.

The No. 29 overall pick last April, Nkemdiche has been a spectator since before the start of full training camp. He injured the ankle during a workout with other rookies and quarterbacks earlier this week.

One of the 2016 draft’s most talented and most talked about prospects, Nkemdiche figures to be an immediate contributor for the Cardinals assuming he gets healthy and up to speed.

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Chiefs extend Eric Fisher

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

When the Chiefs took Eric Fisher as the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, they envisioned him as their franchise left tackle for years to come. They still feel that way.

That’s why the Chiefs have reached an agreement on a four-year contract extension with Fisher, a league source tells PFT.

Before agreeing to this extension, Fisher was slated to earn $3.4 million this year and $11.9 million on his fifth-year option in 2017.

Although it took Fisher some time to make the transition from Central Michigan to the NFL, the Chiefs like the way he has developed. Now, at age 25, he’s slated to play his prime years in Kansas City.

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Taylor Heinicke out for a while after bizarre off-field injury

taylor-heinicke-72916-usnews-getty-ftr_150zqgg5987rg15jg3g99ati7v Getty Images

From time to time in pro sports, bizarre tales emerge of unusual injuries suffered by athletes. On many occasions, the official story isn’t the true story, whether it’s guys tripping over dogs or falling down the steps or slipping on a McDonald’s bag.

The history of misdirection results in skepticism whenever reports emerge of an athlete being injured in an odd way. The latest example comes from Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke.

Officially, Heinicke severed a tendon in his foot while kicking in a window in an effort to help a friend get back into his apartment. Officially, “[t]here was no foul play or substance abuse involved in the incident.”

It’s entirely possible that the official version is true. If so, it was the culmination of a chain of stupid decisions. Who kicks in a window with their foot? Surely, there were other ways to break it that didn’t involve exposing the foot of a pro athlete to shards of broken glass.

And so Heinicke will be on the NFI list, at least for camp and possibly into the regular season. The Vikings can choose not to pay his salary. They also may ultimately decide that they’re going to look elsewhere for young quarterbacks to groom as the backup(s) to Teddy Bridgewater.

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Washington to put Bobby Beathard in Ring of Fame

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 1991:  General Manager Bobby Beathard of the San Diego Chargers stands on the deck of his home on September 1991 in Leucadia, California. (Photo by Andy Hayt via Getty Images) Getty Images

At a time when Washington hopes it has found its next Bobby Beathard in Scot McCloughan, the original Bobby Beathard will join the ranks of the team’s all-time greats.

Washington has announced that Beathard will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Fame.

Serving as G.M. from 1978 through 1988, Beathard built a team that went to three Super Bowls, winning two.

He becomes the 49th member of the Ring of Fame. Most recently, Monte Coleman joined the list in December 2015.

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Roddy White has interest, but wants more than the minimum

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 23: Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons stands on the field during warm ups prior to a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at the Georgia Dome on August 23, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Some say that receiver Roddy White’s expression of reluctance to sign with a non-contender means he has no viable options anywhere. That’s apparently not the case.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, White was — and still is — on the radar in Tennessee. But he won’t accept a minimum-salary offer. Andre Johnson did, which is why he was recently signed.

But with Johnson’s deal not guaranteed, the Titans can kick tires and, if they decide he can’t truly help the team, move on. Possibly back to White.

Other teams to watch for White include the obvious dot-connection to the Buccaneers, where former Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is the head coach.

Regardless of where White ends up, it’s apparently going to take more than the one-year veteran minimum to make it happen. Before a team gets to the point where it’s willing to pay that much, it likely will need to evaluate what it currently has.

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Dion Jordan rejoins the Dolphins

Dion Jordan AP

On Friday, the NFL reinstated defensive end Dion Jordan. On Saturday, Jordan rejoined the Dolphins.

He is in the building,” coach Adam Gase said, via the team’s official website. “There’s a certain protocol that the league has put out as far as what we need to follow. We’re allowed to have certain conversations. He’s allowed to do certain type of things or certain areas that he’s allowed to be around. Obviously, we’re taking everything very slowly.

“We’re trying to make sure that we do everything by the book, exactly the way the league wants us to do it. He’s trying to do a good job of doing exactly what he’s told to do. We are like, you talk about like step one of like 500. It’s going to take some time for us to make sure that we do every little thing right for this thing to turn out the right way.”

If Jordan is on the roster as of Monday, the Dolphins will owe him a $1.7 million roster bonus. However, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald has explained, the Dolphins will retain the roster bonus as partial repayment of the $3.35 million he owes the team in signing bonus money forfeited via his past suspensions.

The CBA allows teams to retain bonus money and salary in order to settle debts over forfeited bonus money. This means that Jordan could be working for free in 2016 and beyond in order to justify retention of the $3.35 million he owes the Dolphins in the wake of his most recent suspension.

That said, the Dolphins could still choose to sever ties with Jordan, avoiding the $1.7 million and still retaining the right to pursue the $3.35 million. For now, it seems they’ll welcome Jordan back, help him stay in the league’s good graces — and help themselves to his $1.7 million bonus and up to another $1.65 million in future pay.

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Jonathan Cooper carted off

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 24:  Offensive guard Jonathan Cooper #61 of the Arizona Cardinals is looked at by trainers and the team doctor after he broke his left fibula while attempting a tackle against the San Diego Chargers during the preseason NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 24, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Along with getting a second-round pick for defensive end Chandler Jones, the Patriots received failed former first-round offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper. The top-10 pick washed out of Arizona due in part to a chronic inability to stay healthy.

In New England, Cooper already is injured.

Per multiple reports, Cooper was carted off on Saturday. It’s apparently a foot problem.

Rookie Ted Karras took over for Cooper, who is in his contract year and has every incentive to play and play well for the Patriots.

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DeAndre Hopkins didn’t leave camp; he never reported

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 29:  DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans warms up before playing against the New Orleans Saints on November 29, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The image created by the ESPN report that Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkinswalked out of camp” is jarring on the surface, inviting the visualization of Hopkins making a one-handed catch in the end zone, spiking the ball, and heading out the tunnel, Bo Jackson-style.

The truth, per a source with knowledge of the situation, is that Hopkins did not report for camp. While the result is the same (he’s not there), the procedures are much different.

For a player under contract who does not report, he is subject to fines in the amount of $40,000 per day and possible signing bonus forfeiture. For a player who shows up and then leaves, things can quickly escalate into the ultimate lose-lose outcome.

When a player reports for camp and then later leaves, the team has the ability to send a letter warning him that, in five days, the club has the right to place him on the reserve/left squad list. The standard “five-day letter” explains to the player that, if they do place him in that category, he can’t play again this season. After sending the letter and the expiration of the five-day period, the club does not have to place the player on the reserve/left squad list, but it may.

With a player like Hopkins, the idea that the Texans would shut him down for the full season is a little ridiculous. Still, if Hopkins didn’t report the “five-day letter” can’t be sent, giving the Texans significantly less leverage in the looming standoff.

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DeAndre Hopkins walks out of Texans camp

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 28:   DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans reacts to a call during the second half of their game against the Buffalo Bills at NRG Stadium on September 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins wants more money, and he’s holding out to get it.

Hopkins left training camp and began a holdout this morning, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Last week, Hopkins said he wants the Texans to pay him “what I’m worth,” but he did not elaborate on his feelings. By walking out of camp, he has made his feelings clear.

As the 27th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Hopkins is heading into the fourth year of his rookie contract, and he’s due a base salary of $1 million this year. That’s a bargain for a player of Hopkins’ quality, but it’s what the Collective Bargaining Agreement dictates.

Next year, the Texans can keep Hopkins by picking up his fifth-year option and paying him $7.915 million. Hopkins is obviously looking for a deal that would pay him considerably more than $8.915 million over the next two years, and more for a few years after that as well.

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Report: Michael Bennett “in town” as Seahawks open camp

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 20: Defensive lineman Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks takes the field wearing a Darth Vader mask during player introductions before a football game against the Cleveland Browns at CenturyLink Field on December 20, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks won the game 30-13. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) Getty Images

Recent quotes from Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett created the impression that he possibly would stay away from training camp, due to lingering unhappiness with his contract.

NFL Media reports that, with the Seahawks opening camp on Saturday, Bennett is “in town.”

Whether he’s “in town” and whether he shows up for camp could be two different propositions. Agent Doug Hendrickson was expected to meet with the Seahawks at some point this week about Bennett’s contract. It’s unclear whether the meeting already has happened.

Bennett’s presence could be a sign that a new deal has been reached, or it could mean that Hendrickson wants Bennett to be “in town” and ready to go in order to dangle to the team the ability to get Bennett to camp right away, if a holdout happens while talks continue.

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Chargers befuddled by Bosa’s position, but maybe they shouldn’t be

la-joey-bosa-roger-goodell-20160428 AP

It’s a holdout about nothing, at least from the team’s perspective.

With defensive end Joey Bosa, the third overall pick in the draft, officially absent for the start of camp, the team is left to wonder why.

Per a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking, the Chargers view the impasse as “strange,” given that every penny of Bosa’s slotted contract is fully and completely guaranteed. The franchise looks at the remaining areas of the dispute as minimal and trivial, given that most if not all other players on the roster: (1) have offset language attached to their guaranteed money; and (2) accept a deferred percentage of their signing bonus until March of the following year.

The problem seems to be that the Chargers are looking at the negotiation from the perspective of team precedent, and that Bosa’s agents are looking at it from the perspective of third-overall-pick precedent. Which is how most agents and teams usually view such negotiations.

So, from that perspective, it would be just as easy for Bosa and his agents to call the team’s position “strange.”

The cash-flow issue seems small on the surface, given interest rates. But these are significant dollars, with the team trying to retaining the ability to invest or otherwise use the money into next year and the player wanting the money now.  Also, the issue is bigger than when the money will be paid; it’s a matter of the new rookie wage scale giving teams and agents very little to negotiate when doing these deals. Cash flow regarding the signing bonus is one of the few issues left.

Other players taken at the top of the first round have gotten all of their signing bonus now, or will have it all by October. Bosa is looking to be treated the same way as those players; the Chargers are looking to treat Bosa the same way they have treated other players. (The fact that the Chargers typically don’t draft in the top five could be the primary reason for the impasse.)

As to offset language, that issue continues to be a matter of cleaning up the worst-case scenario of a guy getting cut before his four-year contract ends. If it comes to that, whether the Chargers pay the balance of the deal or get credit for the low-end contract Bosa would get elsewhere is a small part of the far bigger problem that they took Bosa when they could have had Jalen Ramsey or some other player who becomes great.

It will be much harder for Bosa to become great right away, if he misses much practice time. And it will be much harder for the Chargers to win at the ballot box in November, if Bosa isn’t great right away. The smart move for both sides would be to find a way to compromise. For now, with team and player dug in on both offsets and cash flow, it’s going to require someone to blink in the name of the greater goals that both sides have for the relationship.

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Eagles add Brian Dawkins to scouting staff

84673518 Getty Images

As the Eagles continue the process of mashing the reset button on a franchise that drifted from its desired path under Chip Kelly, they’re bringing home one of the team’s all-time greatest.

The Eagles have added safety Brian Dawkins to the scouting staff.

The eight-time Pro Bowler and team Hall of Fame member joins the operation under the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship, a brand-new effort to introduce former players to scouting.

Dawkins had worked in the media after he retired. His return to the Eagles will be welcomed by plenty of Eagles fans who are still upset that he was once cut.

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Raiders announce contract extension for G.M. Reggie McKenzie

Reggie McKenzie AP

Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie has collected some fine young talent with the likes of quarterback Derek Carr, receiver Amari Cooper and defensive end Khalil Mack. Now McKenzie has been rewarded for that.

The Raiders have announced that McKenzie has signed a four-year contract extension and is now under contract through the 2021 draft.

“Reggie’s contract was up at the end of this year, and we felt was time to reward him for the job that he has done,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said.

The Raiders haven’t been to the playoffs since 2002, but they’re trending in the right direction, and Davis thinks McKenzie’s personnel decisions will be the key to bringing a championship to Oakland. Or Las Vegas.

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