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Cowboys hope to keep Spencer, don’t know if they can

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A large part of the reason that the Cowboys want to get an extension done with Tony Romo this offseason is to help get themselves under the cap by the start of free agency.

One of the things the Cowboys might want to do with the money they clear is re-sign Anthony Spencer. The outside linebacker would likely be moving to defensive end in Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense, but that isn’t something that’s put him off staying in Dallas. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said it hasn’t shaken the team of the feeling that they’d like to keep Spencer on the roster in 2013 and beyond either.

“We’re always in the business of keeping great football players,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “And he is one of those.”

The issue, as you likely gleaned from the open, is going to be money. The Cowboys could franchise Spencer again, but the $10.6 million price tag for that would be just about the cap-unfriendliest way of keeping Spencer in the fold. That makes a long-term deal much more appealing, although such a deal is no slam dunk.

“Unfortunately you’ve got to make difficult decisions,” Jones said. “What that will entail we don’t know quite yet. We’ll be moving forward in a quick way. But obviously Anthony Spencer represents everything we want to be about. He plays hard. His leadership is tremendous. And then on top of that, he’s a great football player.”

Be it a deal with Romo or other roster shuffling, the Cowboys need to find cap space in a quick way as well because failing to do so could leave Spencer to hit the open market in search of another team to call his own.

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Six players declared eligible for supplemental draft

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13: The NFL shield is painted in gold and black after a game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets  at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The new color scheme is to commemorate this years' Super Bowl witch will be the 50th edition. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s July 1, which means that supplemental draft fever is rising across this great land of ours.

The big day for players who have had a change of circumstance in their collegiate careers since the early-entry deadline for the NFL draft is July 14 and six players are eligible to be selected. That group includes Purdue defensive lineman Ra’Zahn Howard, whose presence in the draft pool was reported last month.

Per NFL Media, Ole Miss cornerback Tee Shepard is also eligible after leaving the team last season. Shepard has a hearing loss and took issue with the way the school’s coaching staff pointed to that publicly as the reason for struggles on the field without talking to him first.

Virginia Tech long snapper Eddie D’Antuono, Sam Houston State running back Jalen Overstreet, University of Calgary wide receiver Rashaun Simonise and Concordia defensive end Cameron Walton are the others eligible for the supplemental draft. If a team should pick any of the six, they’ll forfeit their pick in the same round during the 2017 draft.

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Ravens tight end Darren Waller suspended four games

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Ricardo Allen #37 of the Atlanta Falcons tackles Darren Waller #12 of the Baltimore Ravens at Georgia Dome on September 3, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL had shifted the Friday-afternoon-before-three-day-July-4th-weekend bad news dump to Thursday. But apparently there was more bad news than one afternoon could hold.

The league has announced that Ravens tight end/receiver Darren Waller has been suspended the first four games of the season for violating the substance-abuse policy.

Waller had two catches for 18 yards last season, in six games.

The bigger question is whether Waller is the first suspension to be announced on Friday afternoon, or the last.

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Goodell pay not significantly impacted by #Deflategate, either

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The immediate reaction to the news that Commissioner Roger Goodell’s compensation for 2015 dipped by seven percent to $31.74 million was obvious: Goodell took a hit, but not a huge one, in the first full year after the Ray Rice mess of September 2014.

But 2015 also was the year of #Deflategate, and Goodell’s pay shows that one of the three men who determine what Goodell gets — Patriots owner Robert Kraft — wasn’t all that miffed at Goodell over a scandal that made Kraft as made at the league office as he ever has been.

Meanwhile, and as reported by Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, NFL general counsel Jeff Pash saw his total pay for 2015 drop 13 percent, to $6.5 million. It’s widely believed that Kraft and the Patriots emerged from #Deflategate with very strong feelings regarding Pash’s role in the investigation and ultimate conclusions.

Plenty of people would gladly take far less money to have their bosses far more upset with them. Moving forward, no one will know how much Goodell or Pash or anyone else at 345 Park Avenue is making, regardless of how happy or otherwise the folks who determine how much they make may be.

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Bears will be jockeying for St. Louis fans, too

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The Chiefs already plan to horn in on St. Louis turf vacated by the Rams. The Bears will be trying to invade the city that lost its second NFL team since 1987, too.

Via Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, KTVI will televise Chicago Bears preseason games. Previously, KTVI carried Rams exhibitions games.

KMOV in St. Louis will show Chiefs games, giving folks in St. Louis twice the inventory of preseason games to enjoy. And one of those Kansas City games features a matchup against the Rams in Los Angeles.

Caesar also points out that folks in St. Louis will get extra regular-season games on local TV, due to the quirky rules that apply when a city’s team is playing at home.

None of it will matter if St. Louis eventually lures another team to town. After the Cardinals left in the 1980s, the Rams arrived in 1995.

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Tarvaris Jackson says he’s broke, requests a public defender

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Former Seahawks, Vikings and Bills quarterback Tarvaris Jackson made more than $12 million in his NFL career, but now he says he’s so broke that he can’t even afford a lawyer to defend him against charges that he threatened to kill his wife.

Jackson requested a public defender because he can’t afford an attorney, TMZ reports.

In court documents, Jackson says he has no income, savings or investments. His only asset is a car worth $100,000.

The judge overseeing Jackson’s case denied the request for the public defender, perhaps reasoning that after he made $1.5 million with the Seahawks last year and found a way to buy that car, Jackson can find a way to pay a lawyer, too.

The 33-year-old Jackson was a second-round draft pick of the Vikins in 2006 and has been in the NFL since. He is not currently under contract, and given the legal issues hanging over his head, his NFL career is probably over.

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NFL still looking into Aqib Talib shooting

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 04:  Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos speaks to the media during the Broncos media availability for Super Bowl 50 at the Stanford Marriott on February 4, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. The Broncos will play the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

A fuller police report from the night that Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib was shot in the right leg has been made available, but it doesn’t offer much new insight into what led to Talib’s wound.

There were reports at the time that Talib told police that he didn’t know who shot him as well as reports that he accidentally shot himself, although the Dallas police said they were investigating it as an aggravated assault. The report, obtained by Ian Rapoport of NFL Media and Lindsay Jones of USA Today, confirms that Talib said he didn’t know who shot him and that an “unknown suspect” shot Talib.

The police report quotes a witness that was part of a group of people in a park and heard a single gunshot followed by seeing Talib lying on the ground. The report also says police found a gram of marijuana, but makes no mention of who it belonged to.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Jones that the NFL is continuing an investigation into what happened and the Dallas police consider it an open investigation as well.

Talib is expected to make a full recovery in time for the regular season.

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Mark Davis visiting Vegas regularly while stadium site selection continues

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is seen during warm ups before his team competes against the Denver Broncos at O.co Coliseum on November 9, 2014 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

When last we heard from Raiders owner Mark Davis, he reiterated that he is serious about moving the team to Las Vegas if the city can put together a plan to build a new stadium.

Nothing has changed on that front in the last few weeks. Las Vegas Sands senior vice president Ron Reese said that Davis has been to the city “a half-dozen times” in the last couple of months and that his company is continuing to work on putting together that stadium plan.

“It’s a major investment,” Reese said, via USA Today. “The NFL has expressed a strong desire for a public-private partnership. Our organization is taking the lead, working with the Raiders to create public-private support for this.”

The question of the public end of that partnership remains unanswered. There have been proposals calling for contributions of $500 or $750 million raised from hotel room taxes. In the meantime, work is being done to settle on a site for the stadium in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported this week that four sites are under consideration by the Raiders, the Sands and Majestic Realty, which comprise the private half of the partnership.

“We’re much further along in looking at sites than people realize,” Las Vegas Sands exec Andy Abboud said. “We want to be somewhere along the resort corridor along the Las Vegas Strip. I think we can get that resolved by the end of July. We may go forward after July with two potential sites and determine the best one.”

Oakland is still pushing for a plan that could keep the Raiders from moving, although the prospect of the Raiders landing in Vegas may have become more likely this offseason.

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Nate Robinson using WR trainer who worked with Odell Beckham, DeSean Jackson

When longtime NBA point guard Nate Robinson tried out for the Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll said it would be “all but impossible” for him to make it to the NFL.

But Carroll also offered some advice on how Robinson might proceed if he wanted a shot — to concentrate on offense.

Robinson’s work with trainer Dwayne Frampton has focused on Robinson learning to play wide receiver. Robinson played cornerback at the University of Washington, but Frampton — who has worked with Odell Beckham Jr. and DeSean Jackson — thinks he has promise as a receiver.

“Nate originally went out to work out for Pete Carroll as a defensive back, but he saw how well Nate was catching the ball,” Frampton said, via Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. “So Pete said he could be used offensively.

“People have to understand Nate’s already played the game of football. So he’s not blind, he’s just a rookie. We worked on ball drills, getting his feet, polishing his route-running, keeping his shoulder-pad level down. Pretty much just getting him back in the groove of how football operates.”

Frampton said the 32-year-old, 5-foot-9 Robinson has shown ability as a slot receiver, and good strength for his size. But he insisted he didn’t think Robinson was in this just for attention, and that it could work.

“He’s really trying to make it back into football. And he has the willpower and athleticism to do so,” Frampton said. “If he were to get a fair opportunity and not just be known as Nate Robinson the slam-dunk champion, but be known as Nate Robinson, the athlete who’s really trying to make it back to the football world, then I think he’s fine. That’s probably the biggest hurdle, people not taking this as a gimmick.”

Considering how hard it is for 22-year-olds who have actually played wide receiver in college to make it to the NFL, it’s easy to understand why people might think it’s a gimmick. But Robinson appears to be taking his attempt seriously, and should be commending for not quitting.

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NFL dismisses Charles Sly’s recanting of PED allegations

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As the NFL and NFL Players Association continue to harden their diametrically-opposed positions regarding the investigation sparked by PED allegations made in an Al Jazeera documentary, more and more aspects of each side’s beliefs have become clear.

In the NFL’s most recent letter to the NFLPA, which was given to the media before it was given to the union, the league dismisses the notion that Charles Sly’s recanting of the allegations in any way disproves them.

“The fact that statements aired in the report may have been since ‘recanted,’ while potentially relevant to any ultimate conclusions reached, does not extinguish our need to investigate,” NFL senior V.P. of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch writes in his letter to NFLPA counsel Heather McPhee. “And it is hardly remarkable or dispositive that an individual would publicly disavow statements for which he may be subject to criminal or civil sanctions.”

Peyton Manning may disagree strongly with that sentiment, given the P.R. push from Camp Manning that Sly’s about-face proves that his claims are false. Still, the NFL is absolutely right on this point. It’s no surprise that a person who said one thing when he didn’t realize he was being recorded said something else once the syntax hit the fan.

Birch’s comments appear in support of the broader position that the NFL has a right to interview players as part of an investigation aimed at determining whether evidence of PED use exists beyond a positive test.

“[Y]our letters do not dispute that NFL players have an obligation to cooperate with league investigations and may be disciplined for failing to do so — a principle that, as you know, has been repeatedly confirmed in recent litigation between the parties,” Birch writes.

It’s also clear that the league believes it has the power to interview players without sharing any of the evidence that has been compiled against them, regardless of whether that evidence suggests innocence or guilt.

“[W]e are under no obligation to disclose all evidence uncovered thus far as a condition to interviewing the parties,” Birch writes, “which would clearly compromise the investigation.”

Here’s where it’s critical for the two sides to have a clear understanding regarding what the rules are regarding investigations. Neither the Collective Bargaining Agreement nor the PED policy contain language expressly acknowledging the league’s power to interview players as part of the investigation or outlining the rules and procedures that apply when an investigation occurs. In litigation, parties to the dispute aren’t expected to tell their stories without knowing what evidence the other side does or doesn’t possess. In investigations like this one, players shouldn’t be required to do it, either.

The fact that the CBA and the PED policy say nothing about the NFL’s and NFLPA’s rights and responsibilities when the league wants to interview players in connection with a possible PED violation suggests that the players aren’t required to provide any information until the NFL has developed enough evidence to justify discipline — and unless the player appeals the suspension. Even if the NFL has the ability to interview players before imposing discipline, the notion that the league can conceal the evidence and hope to coax the players into saying something that conflicts with other evidence that the league is hiding. absent express authorization to proceed in this way, justifies an effort by the NFLPA to resist making the players available.

With #Deflategate being an exercise in jumping to an uninformed conclusion and then launching an investigation aimed not at getting to the truth but justifying a predetermined outcome, there’s no reason for the NFLPA or anyone to believe the NFL will do anything differently in this case. As a result, there’s no reason for the NFLPA to agree to let the players walk into a potential buzzsaw.

Regardless of how this plays out, the NFL and NFLPA should come up with clear rules regarding the trigger for launching an investigation and the nuts and bolts associated with conducting it.

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Jamar Taylor enjoying “fresh start” with Browns

DAVIE, FL - MAY 3:  Jamar Taylor #22 of the Miami Dolphins runs drills during the rookie camp on May 3, 2013 at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida.  (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) Getty Images

Among the changes the Browns made to their roster this offseason was the addition of cornerback Jamar Taylor in a trade with the Dolphins.

Taylor was a second-round pick in Miami in 2013, but has struggled both on the field and with injuries since entering the NFL. The Browns haven’t been anything to write home about over the last three years either, which led to their latest coaching and front office reboot and a chance for Taylor to improve on the results of the last three seasons.

“It’s definitely a fresh start for me. For what I went through in Miami, it’s all over. This is a great group of people here, a great organization, a great staff,” Taylor said, via the team’s website. “Nobody knows me, I know nobody. It’s just really new for me. It’s definitely a fresh start, but it’s a fresh start for everybody. None of the coaches really know a lot of these guys so everybody knows they just have to go put it on tape. You are who you put on tape and you are who you are around your teammates.”

Taylor said he’s open to any role the Browns have for him on defense, special teams or anywhere else, which is the right way to approach a fresh start with a new organization. The attitude will only take him so far if his health and performance don’t make a turn in the right direction.

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Sheldon Richardson “grateful” suspension wasn’t longer

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 09: Defensive end Sheldon Richardson #91 of the New York Jets reacts in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a game at MetLife Stadium on November 9, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Thursday was a day for handing out suspensions around the NFL, including a one-game ban to Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

Richardson was suspended as a result of last year’s arrest for evading police while driving 143 m.p.h. with a 12-year-old in the car. Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in January and wrote on Instagram that he’s thankful the ban wasn’t longer.

“So the league has sent down there [sic] decision,” Richardson wrote. “I have to live with it. I’m grateful, it could have been more but this is overspill from a silly offseason on my part but I’ve grown from it been pass [sic] it. … I’m still smiling like its draft day. … to my family and fans I love ya.”

The Jets likely share Richardson’s relief about the league’s decision. While they hope to have Muhammad Wilkerson back in the fold by the time the season opener rolls around, living without one of their top defensive players for one week is a much more preferable outcome than the longer suspension many thought was possible.

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“All or Nothing” leaves you wanting more

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After watching the new All or Nothing series from the Arizona Cardinals, NFL Films, and Amazon.com, one word best describes the most appropriate reaction: More.

In more ways than one. I want more full-season NFL series like this, taking the viewer far beyond the same-old Hard Knocks storylines that primarily revolve around bubble players who may or may not be employed by the time a given episode debuts and delving into the week-in, week-out grind of a full season.

I want to know more about the Cardinals, a bedrock NFL franchise that has been around longer than the NFL itself and that has gone from being one of the league’s various Washington Generals to one of its Harlem Globetrotters, consistently winning more games than it loses and annually contending for playoff positioning. The Cardinals, after decades of blah, have muscled their way onto the short list of national NFL brands. All or Nothing cements the Cardinals as a team that will attract a lot attention far beyond its home market.

I want more Bruce Arians, who combines the profanity of Rex Ryan with the quick wit of Jerry Glanville to create a one-of-a-kind football coach who inexplicably didn’t get a chance to coach an NFL team of his own until he obtained an unexpected opportunity, due to Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s leukemia diagnosis, to prove that Arians deserved it.

Most importantly, I want more of what the cameras and microphones captured that didn’t make it to any of the eight one-hour episodes. Both cornerback Patrick Peterson and running back David Johnson have told PFT Live over the past week or so that the players knew that cameras were present but that they didn’t know when or how the footage would be used. Eventually, with cameras constantly around, the players and coaches become numb to their presence and revert to being who they really are. Not knowing why the cameras are there accelerates the process.

The oft-salty language (there’s a clean version that is suitable for younger viewers, since kids never otherwise hear or use those terms) suggests that the footage is raw and real. But there’s surely plenty of stuff that is even more raw and more real that ended up on the cutting room floor. I want to see that stuff, too.

As Cardinals president Michael Bidwill made clear during his visit to PFT Live, the footage was edited to exclude strategic information or other sensitive moments, like players being cut. Assurances like those were critical to get Arians to go along with the project.

“I don’t watch reality TV,” Arians said in 2014. “It does nothing for me so I don’t really want to be on reality TV. I would have to change totally how I coach. . . . I think it’s a total distraction to what you’re trying to accomplish because everything about Hard Knocks is getting on television and being an individual. And it’s a team game.”

With All or Nothing, the team takes center stage because the show was about much more than the month or so of training-camp practices and preseason games. The individuals nevertheless shine through, too, with the guy who said he doesn’t want to be on reality TV being the person who makes the strongest impact.

All or Nothing, which was released a day earlier that expected, is available at no charge on Amazon.com. It will be available for free until July 31.

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Martellus Bennett has written a children’s book, launching app to go with it

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 17:  Martellus Bennett speaks with media during the Hey AJ Imagination Lounge Pop Up on June 17, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Natasha Moustache/Getty Images for Martellus Bennett- Imagination Agency Pop Up Book Launch) Getty Images

It probably does not surprise anyone who has followed the exploits of the Black Unicorn over the years to know that he has a fertile imagination.

But now, Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett is using it for educational purposes.

Via Fitz Tepper of TechCrunch.com, Bennett has created a company called The Imagination Agency, and has created a children’s book and mobile app to bring the story to life.

Bennett and his group have written a book called “Hey A.J.,” about the adventures of a curious young girl making breakfast.

Bennett said he had “hundreds of characters in his head,” which no one who has followed his football career would dispute. Now, he’s hoping to capitalize on that with an app which is available in both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.

We can only imagine what happens when he hangs around with Rob Gronkowski for a year in New England, as having an actual cartoon character for a teammate will provide even more inspiration for future projects.

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Marc Trestman says the Ravens are a run-first team

Marc Trestman, John Harbaugh AP

The Ravens are paying Joe Flacco more than $20 million a year for the next six years, but they don’t view Flacco as the focal point of their offense.

That’s the word from Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, who says Baltimore hopes to be a run-first team.

“We’re always looking at ourselves as a team that should be able to run the ball first,” Trestman said, via the Baltimore Sun. “That’s just the way we want to play it, and everything starts with the physicality of our run game, and the physicality of our runner. That’s how we coach offense here, and everything starts there.”

Last year the Ravens’ offense wasn’t particularly good at either running or passing. This year the most important question facing the Ravens’ offense would seem to be whether Flacco can stay healthy after suffering a torn ACL in 2015, but Trestman thinks the run game may be even more important.

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Brandon Carr on suspensions: We have to come together even stronger

Rolando McClain AP

The Cowboys got a double dose of bad news on the suspension front Thursday with the NFL announcing a 10-game ban for linebacker Rolando McClain as well as upholding the four-game penalty handed down to defensive end Demarcus Lawrence earlier this offseason.

Lawrence’s fellow defensive end Randy Gregory will also open the year by serving a four-game suspension, leaving the Cowboys down three players that would be major parts of their defense in a perfect world. Cornerback Brandon Carr said on Sirius XM Radio with Zig Fracassi and Phil Savage that their absences raise the stakes for the rest of the players on that side of the ball.

“Well, anytime you get a guy going down in your unit, you have to come together even stronger to make up for that slack,” Carr said. “But Rolando is a guy that’s made a lot of plays for us in the past two years, another dominant presence on the field. So we’re definitely going to miss that. But football’s a game of the next man up, it’s a game of inches. So it’s going to take for all of us to come to training camp focused and next man up, get him ready, get prepared to go out there to battle.”

There were questions about the quality of the Cowboys defense when the three suspended players were expected to be in the mix to open the season, so the remaining hands on deck will have a big task ahead of them once camp gets underway later this month.

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