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Vitt says Benson kicked NFL security chief “off the property”

AP

The bounty case essentially is over, but bits and pieces of evidence continue to surface.

More than a few bits and pieces have come from the disclosure of a significant portion of the appeal hearing testimony from former Saints interim head coach and current linebackers coach Joe Vitt.

Among many other things, Vitt’s testimony before former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue sheds light on some of the contentious aspects of the relationship between the league office and the organization.  Vitt says that, at one point, Saints owner Tom Benson told NFL V.P. of security Jeff Miller to leave the premises.

“Jeff Miller took a plane ride from New York down to New Orleans, and the way he talked to our owner, what he said to our owner made me want to throw up, to the point where Mr. Benson kicked him off the property and didn’t let him back on the property,” Vitt said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

“This almost killed our owner.  Our owner has done nothing but be a great owner in the National Football League the whole time he’s been in the league. . . .  And now this guy takes a plane ride down and throws some documents in front of our owner’s face, and our owner has got to kick him out of the building?  That’s what we’re dealing with.  That’s fine.”

Vitt also explained that, even though notes generated by former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo indicated that Vitt had offered $5,000 to the alleged bounty on former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, Miller didn’t believe it happened.

“The investigators, Jeff Miller in particular, acknowledged that I did not give any money to a bounty because he said to me, you know, we heard that your wife is so cheap that you have a hard time getting lunch money every day,” Vitt said.  “That was his comment to me.  And I said, well, your wife must have a pretty good sense of humor, too, with the clothes you’re wearing right now.”

Vitt also had some strong comments for Cerullo.

“Mike Cerullo is a liar,” Vitt said. “We’ll get some notes here from Mr. Cerullo. I’ll say this to you, Commissioner, and anybody that’s interested. I’m taking Mike Cerullo to court.  I’m going to sue his ass for the things he said about me, the things he said about this football team.  He’s going to be held accountable for everything he said. I make this offer again.  If we want me to take a lie detector test this afternoon, I will do so.  Or if you want me to do it tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon, I will do so. Mike Cerullo is a liar.  A liar.”

Vitt also talked at length regarding coach Sean Payton’s decision after the 2011 season to part ways with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.  Payton began to sour on Williams after the head coach caught Williams texting draft picks to the media during the 2011 selection process.

“I would say the final straw was the last two weeks of the season,” Vitt said.  “Gregg kept coming to Sean every day and wanted his contract extension and wanted his extension done.  And Sean said, well, we’ll talk about it at the end of the season, well knowing what direction Sean was going in.  And the last week of the season, it’s all in the papers, you know, Gregg has gone to St. Louis, it’s his best friend Jeff Fisher, you know, ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom, trying to squeeze Sean, trying to squeeze Mickey to get his contract.  And the day after the playoff game that we lost against San Francisco, he went into Sean’s office and says I need to know right now, I need my contract, I’ve got to let Jeff know what I’m doing.  And Sean said, you’re not going to get a contract here.  I think it’s best go to St. Louis with your friend Jeff. And that was it. . . .  It didn’t end pretty. It didn’t end nice.”

There isn’t much nice or pretty about Vitt’s testimony, but it’s compelling and interesting and he has the kind of passion that typically is exhibited by a guy who has been accused of things he didn’t do.

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Report: LeGarrette Blount gets 50K if he weighs 240-245 pounds at start of camp

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After running back LeGarrette Blount signed with the Eagles in May, he said that he was the “weight I need to be at” when asked about his physical condition.

He reportedly has some financial incentive to get to the weight the Eagles want him at for the coming season. Field Yates of ESPN reports that Blount will make $50,000 if he weighs between 240-245 pounds when he reports to training camp next month.

Blount was listed at 250 pounds while with the Patriots last season, which doesn’t leave him with a tremendous amount of weight to drop if he was around that number this offseason. A minimal drop in weight makes sense as Blount’s greatest value to the Eagles comes as a battering ram and the team wouldn’t want to make him less effective in that role by losing too much of his bulk.

Players start reporting to Eagles camp on July 24 with the first full-team practice set for July 27.

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Dak Prescott joins special edition of PFT Live on Wednesday

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The curious decision of FOX Sports to completely dump online written content carries at least a grain of non-stupidity: People are consuming video content via the Internet more frequently and zealously than ever.

The challenge for those generating the video content will be to provide something that’s relevant and interesting, and not simply a couple of dudes fake-yelling at each other about the latest low-hanging fruit of the day. Here’s something that should be relevant and interesting: Later today, we’ll be posting an interview with Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott’s appearance will occur in conjunction with the campaign dubbed “Ready. Raise. Rise.” It’s a Bristol-Myers Squibb initiative aimed at raising awareness of Immuno-Oncology, a rapidly-evolving area of research that seeks to offer renewed hope for people with cancer. Dak lost his mother to colon cancer, and chances are that everyone reading this has had a close family member or friend who has battled cancer in some form or fashion.

Stay tuned to PFT throughout the day for the interview to be posted. That’s not a deliberate device for getting you to keep coming back all day long looking for it. But if you do, I won’t complain.

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Todd Downing “pleasantly surprised” by Marshawn Lynch

AP

The true measure of how much running back Marshawn Lynch has left in the tank after sitting out the 2016 season will come once the Raiders take the field in September, but it sounds like what the team has seen so far is a bit more than they may have been expecting.

During an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan, Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing was asked about the impression the running back made during his offseason work with the team.

“This is being as genuine as I can be,” Downing said. “He has pleasantly surprised me at every turn. It’s been really neat to be around him. … So everything that we’ve seen on him thus far — and, of course, we’ve only been in pajamas out there practicing — but what we’ve seen has been fantastic. And I’m as excited as the rest of Raider Nation to see what he’s got.”

Lynch will have to continue to impress once he’s out of pajamas and into full pads, but his past success and the quality of the Raiders’ offensive line provide reason to believe Downing won’t have to seriously downgrade his read on Lynch down the line.

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Zachary Orr trying to make a comeback

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Zachary Orr is making a comeback, after initially retiring because of neck issues.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Ravens linebacker has received new word from doctors that the neck and spine condition which caused him to call it a career in January isn’t as bad as initially thought, and that he can continue to play.

Orr was the Ravens leading tackler last year, and they were talking to him about a contract extension at the time he retired.

He was also a restricted free agent, and the Ravens didn’t offer him a tender (which made sense considering they thought he was retired). As such, he’s now an unrestricted free agent, free to talk to anyone.

Teams will want to do their own (thorough) checks to make sure they’re comfortable with his condition, but Orr immediately becomes one of the most interesting names on the market at the moment.

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Jalen Ramsey resumes running after core muscle surgery

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Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey appears to be making good progress in his recovery from core muscle surgery.

Ramsey had surgery to repair an injury suffered during the team’s Organized Team Activities less than two weeks ago and he’s hit one milestone in his path back to the field. Ramsey announced on Twitter Tuesday that he ran for the first time since having the operation.

It is the second straight year Ramsey has had surgery in the offseason. Ramsey had knee surgery after the Jags made him the fifth overall pick of last year’s draft, but never missed a game and turned in a strong rookie year.

The Jaguars signed A.J. Bouye to play across from Ramsey at corner and also added safety Barry Church to the secondary in free agency. If all are healthy — Church and safety Tashaun Gipson were out this offseason with injuries — the unit has the pieces to be a good one for Doug Marrone.

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Andrew Luck still not throwing, but not “sullen or morose”

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Andrew Luck is not ready to start making hype videos of his first throws, the way Cam Newton did this week.

That does not mean he’s not hyped in his own way.

The Colts quarterback participated in a camp for a local children’s hospital yesterday, running around and playing with kids and having a good time but not yet throwing footballs to them. Or anyone else, either.

Asked about his recovery from shoulder surgery, he stayed positive despite not hitting the big landmark people are looking for.

“Feeling better and better every week,” Luck said, via Brody Miller of the Indianapolis Star. “Still haven’t started throwing. But that process will come when it’s ready.”

When asked about the status of his rehab, he replied: “No reason to be sullen or morose! It’s a beautiful day.”

Of course, it will be a brighter day for the football fans in his area when he can actually throw again. He’s still about a month away from the start of training camp so there’s still time to prepare, but the clock is ticking.

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Logan Ryan speaks up, pays his brother’s $82,000 in student loans

Logan Ryan signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Titans this offseason, and one of his first orders of business was to pay off his brother’s student loans — and to speak up about a system that leaves millions of Americans with serious debt.

Ryan posted a picture on Instagram of an oversized check representing the $82,000 he paid to get his brother’s loans paid off. With it, he posted a message about how crippling student loan debt can be.

“Surprised my big bro and paid off his student loans for his 29th Bday!” Ryan wrote. “My man got accepted to college, graduated with honors, and now works as an engineer. He did everything the right way and still lives with a ridiculous amount of student loan debt. The system is broken and makes no sense! I’m Fortunate and blessed to be able to take care of that for him.. Love you big bro you deserve it!”

Ryan, a cornerback who played the last four seasons for the Patriots, also did a good deed recently when he and his wife asked all the guests at their wedding to donate to an animal shelter instead of buying gifts.

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Jadeveon Clowney boosted by position coach saying he has Hall of Fame potential

AP

After injuries significantly hampered his first two seasons in the NFL, Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney finally had the type of year in 2016 that was anticipated when Houston made him the first overall pick in 2014.

Entering his fourth season, Clowney is now much more confident in his abilities. Nevertheless, Clowney received some additional encouragement from Texans’ defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, who told Clowney he has Hall of Fame potential.

I told him he can be a Hall of Famer,” Weaver said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “Now, there’s a number of things that have to happen. You’ve got to stay healthy, you have to be consistent and persistent. But he has all the qualities and athletic attributes in order to do that.”

Clowney was named to his first Pro Bowl after accumulating 52 tackles, six sacks and a forced fumble last year for the Texans. He managed to do so without J.J. Watt drawing double or triple teams for most of the season to make his life any easier either.

“It meant a lot to me,” Clowney said. “He sees the work I’ve put in from two years of being injured to the next year to the year after. All the guys around my team tell me to keep improving and keep getting better and come back for another great season this year.”

With Watt returning from injury, Clowney could be the biggest beneficiary. He could get more one-on-one matchups opposite of Watt and find his way into more sacks now that he’s healthy and has a full season of experience under his belt.

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NFL has no comment on Supreme Court’s decision to take up New Jersey gambling case

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Previously, the NFL had plenty to say about its opposition to efforts by New Jersey to legalize sports wagering. With the Supreme Court agreeing to take up the question of whether New Jersey’s attack on the federal law prohibiting the expansion of betting on football games and other sporting events, the NFL has nothing to say.

The league has declined comment regarding the development, which puts the controversy on the docket for the next Supreme Court term commencing in October.

The NFL currently is tiptoeing through a minefield of hypocrisy when it comes to gambling, given the decision to allow the Raiders to eventually move to Las Vegas. Despite insistence by the Commissioner that the league continues to oppose betting on games, more and more people connected to the league believe that the legalization of wagering is inevitable — and that the NFL can make billions in profit from it.

The first step toward widespread gambling will be the elimination of the federal law that prevents states from adopting sports wagering. That could happen either in the Supreme Court, or through the legislative process.

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Unsigned draft pick count down to just ten, including seven first-round picks

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After Jourdan Lewis signed with the Cowboys on Tuesday night, the number of unsigned draft picks across the NFL stands at just ten.

Seven of those 10 picks were selected in the first round.

The seven first-round picks yet to sign are: Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (second overall), 49ers defensive lineman Solomon Thomas (third), Titans wide receiver Corey Davis (fifth), Jets safety Jamal Adams (sixth), Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (10), Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley (24) and Browns defensive back Jabrill Peppers (25).

Safety Obi Melifonwu of the Raiders is the only second-round pick yet to sign. Defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes of the Raiders and Packers defensive end Montravius Adams are the remaining third-round picks yet to sign contracts.

First-round picks can sign a four-year contract with a fifth-year option while all remaining draft picks can only sign four-year deals.

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Jourdan Lewis tweets he’s signed with Cowboys, wraps up draft class

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After getting almost all of their rookies signed last month, the Dallas Cowboys had one last member of their nine-man draft class to get under contract.

Third-round pick Jourdan Lewis tweeted he signed his deal with Dallas on Tuesday night.

The former Michigan cornerback was selected by the Cowboys with the 92nd overall pick in the draft last month. He’s had issues off the field that continue to hang over his head, primarily a trial next month on misdemeanor domestic violence charges. Lewis has claimed innocence in the matter.

Per NFL rules, Lewis’ contract will be a four-year deal.

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Jared Goff’s appreciation of Derek Carr’s contract is premature, at best

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Many people have said many things about the contract signed last week by Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. On person who has said things about the deal perhaps shouldn’t, at least not yet.

“Awesome to see that happen to a guy like him in this league,” Rams quarterback Jared Goff said Tuesday during a conference call for the American Century Championship golf tournament, via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. “Obviously, great for guys like myself and younger quarterbacks.”

If by “great” Goff means “premature,” he’s right.

Goff first needs to show that he won’t be a bust (roughly half of all first-round quarterbacks are) before he can even consider getting paid like Carr. Also, because Goff was a first-round pick, he’s signed for five total years. Which means that he’s four seasons away from the franchise-tag dance that could allow him to pile up cash and leverage by operating on a year-to-year basis. It also means that he’s probably three years away from getting an extension.

None of it matters if he doesn’t develop into the kind of quarterback the Rams would pay to keep. Based on his performance in 2016, the jury is out, at best. If the light doesn’t come on in 2017, there’s a chance the Rams will cut their losses and dig the hole for a tug of war with the 49ers, as both possibly try to land Kirk Cousins.

While that’s also premature, it’s equally as premature as Goff thinking about his second contract. His primary focus for now should be justifying his first one.

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Adam Gase already considered players’ coach

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Adam Gase has won only 10 games, but the Dolphins coach already has won over his players.

“Our relationship is unique, because of him, and he allows that with this team and with the guys on this team,” Kenny Stills said, via James Walker of ESPN. “I feel like that’s a part of this building being special. He really, genuinely cares about us and is looking out for us and wants what’s in our best interest. So it makes it easy to play for a guy like that.”

When Stills and other Dolphins players chose to take a knee during the national anthem last season, Gase offered support. When Stills became a free agent in March, he chose to re-sign with the Dolphins reportedly for less money.

Tight end Julius Thomas, obtained in a trade with the Jaguars, spent four seasons with Gase when both were with the Broncos. Thomas sees Gase as a good coach and a good friend.

“Not only is he a guy that I think is one of the best football minds — he’s really good at teaching and instructing — but he’s also somebody that I consider a friend and somebody that I trust in this game,” Thomas said. “To have that marriage is pretty good.”

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Hearing on Michael Floyd’s suspension was held last week

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Now that Vikings receiver Michael Floyd has clarity regarding his situation under Arizona law, he’ll next learn his fate under the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a hearing was conducted in Floyd’s case last week. Under the current policy, he faces a two-game unpaid suspension, at a minimum. Given that he pleaded guilty to extreme DUI, the penalty could be even greater.

“Absent aggravating circumstances, discipline for a first offense will be a suspension without pay for two (2) regular or postseason games,” the policy provides. “If the Commissioner finds that there were aggravating circumstances, including but not limited to felonious conduct, extreme intoxication (BAC of .15% or more), property damage or serious injury or death to the Player or a third party, and/or if the Player has had prior drug or alcohol-related misconduct, increased discipline may be imposed.”

Floyd’s blood-alcohol concentration was measured at 0.217 percent when he was arrested last year, putting him above the threshold for enhanced penalties.

There’s a separate question as to whether Floyd’s recent violation of the terms of his house arrest, arising from a positive alcohol test, constitutes a second offense under the policy. If it does, he’ll be subject to a separate suspension of eight games.

While that would seem excessive (and thus likely wouldn’t be the outcome), the 0.055-percent reading generated by the in-home testing procedures could be regarded by the league as a violation of Floyd’s treatment plan, assuming he was in the league’s substance-abuse program at the time of the positive test. Depending on his precise status, the incident could potentially trigger separate discipline.

The good news for Floyd is that, once he completes his house arrest, he will have no further obligation to avoid alcohol. This doesn’t insulate Floyd from consequences under the substance-abuse policy, if his treatment plan prohibits alcohol use.

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Jason McCourty: All three Browns QBs showing confidence

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The Browns have Cody Kessler. They have DeShone Kizer. They have Brock Osweiler. Do they have a starting quarterback?

Browns cornerback Jason McCourty thinks they have three.

“Confidence,” McCourty told NFL Network when asked what he has seen from the three quarterbacks competing for the job. “I think that’s big. Just at the quarterback position, there’s going to be ups; there’s going to be downs. But just to see how confident those guys are when they’re taking the huddle [is big]. Obviously our defense is an attacking defense, so they’re getting multiple looks each and every time we step foot on the field, and they keep coming back and responding with big throws, checking the offense at the line of scrimmage. So I think it’s going to be fun just to watch how it unfolds between those three and how they all compete going into training camp.”

Osweiler has the most experience of the three with a 13-8 record as a starter in five seasons. He has completed 488 of 815 passes for 5,083 yards with 26 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. But he might go into training camp third in the pecking order with the rookie Kizer having made up ground on Kessler during the offseason. Kessler went 0-8 as a rookie last season, completing 128 of 195 passes for 1,380 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.

McCourty, in his first season in Cleveland after eight seasons in Tennessee, wouldn’t name a favorite to earn the starting job.

“Man, I wish I knew,” McCourty said. “I’m going to try to sneak into some of those offensive staff meetings and try to see Hue [Jackson] and the rest of the staff is thinking over there.

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