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Rodgers could be the next quarterback to get a new deal

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It’s widely believed that the next wave of quarterbacks to get new deals in the wake of the Joe Flacco contract will include Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

But the most glaring contract presently belongs to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’ll earn less than half the average of the $20 million mark that more and more quarterbacks are approaching or exceeding.

Rodgers hasn’t asked for a new deal, and he hasn’t complained about his current contract.  A league source with knowledge of the situation believes, however, that the Packers soon will take care of Rodgers.

“It is his time,” the source said.

The source also believes that, once Rodgers has a new deal, it will set a new benchmark that will stand for several years.

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Bengals place Vontaze Burfict on PUP list

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The wait for linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s return to the field will go on a little longer.

The Bengals announced Tuesday that Burfict has been placed on the physically unable to perform list. Burfict had microfracture surgery in January after last year’s season-ending knee surgery and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in May that he expected the linebacker to rehab all the way through the summer, so it’s not an unexpected move.

Cincinnati added A.J. Hawk as a free agent this offseason and he worked with the first team in Burfict’s place during spring work. With Burfict looking like a candidate for the regular season PUP list, he may be in that spot for a while.

The Bengals also placed first-round tackle Cedric Ogbuehi on the non-football injury list because of the torn ACL he suffered while playing football for Texas A&M. Defensive end Margus Hunt (back) and linebacker Sean Porter (torn ACL) will also open camp on the PUP list while wide receiver James Wright has been waived/injured with a knee injury that is likely to require surgery. Wright will revert to injured reserve if he goes unclaimed on waivers.

 

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Sean Payton wants to see Junior Galette do well elsewhere

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The Saints have decided that they no longer want to employ linebacker Junior Galette. But that doesn’t mean coach Sean Payton regards Galette as unemployable.

Payton appeared on Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, and I asked what he’d tell another coach who is considering signing Galette.

“You are going to get a guy that gives great effort,” Payton said. “He is someone that works hard, he’s passionate, you know I love that about him. He plays with passion. I think the key thing in the area that I get frustrated with myself is just making sure that there’s that communication, like ‘Hey here’s what we’re doing, here’s the expectation level.’ And look, guys are going to make mistakes, you know all of us are and at the same time I think it just really got to a point where we felt for this upcoming season it was a decision we had to make.”

Payton mentions he has had success with players who didn’t work out elsewhere, mentioning Anthony Hargrove as a guy who “battled a handful of demons” before flourishing in the fleur-de-lis.

“I think it’s about the fit,” Payton said, “and listen I would be more than happy to visit with another coach or G.M. with regards to signing Junior. You want to see him do well. I want to see him do well and have success and realize all his dreams.”

Payton also explained that “a series of things” contributed to the decision to move on from Galette.

“I think when it’s all said in done there was more expected off the field,” Payton said. “There were too many times there were some inconsistencies, some things that took place where we didn’t feel comfortable as a club.  Obviously when you write a check like that and make a commitment like that you have a long-term vision. Certainly we did. That same vision we had when we signed Junior as a rookie player. Shoot, as a head coach you feel like you failed because you take a vested interest him having success and seeing him accomplish all the things you want. Yet at the same time there is team element that we felt was really paramount, and it was really in the best interest for in what we felt going forward for our team.”

Galette still faces potential league scrutiny for a paid of off-field incidents, which could prompt a team to take a wait-and-see approach to signing him. Also, a head coach or G.M. will likely want to conduct plenty of other research before giving the guy who squandered his roster spot in New Orleans a second chance.

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Report: Le’Veon Bell suspension reduced to two games

Le'Veon Bell AP

There were reportedly settlement talks between the NFL and NFLPA regarding Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension appeal, but we learned on Tuesday afternoon that they were unsuccessful and that Brady remains suspended for four games.

Things have apparently gone better in the talks about reducing Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell’s three-game suspension. Jarrett Bell of USA Today reports that the suspension has been reduced to two games as a result of settlement conversations following the running back’s appeal.

Bell was arrested last August and charged with DUI and marijuana possession. Under current NFL policy, first-time DUI offenders are subject to a two-game suspension and the marijuana possession likely led to the additional game. Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount was with a member of the Steelers and in Bell’s at the time of the arrest and was suspended one game for his marijuana possession charge.

Bell will miss the opener against the Patriots and a September 20 game against the 49ers before becoming eligible to return in Week Three against the Rams.

 

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Goodell cites destroying phone in upholding Tom Brady’s suspension

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In a not-at-all unexpected end (for now) to the #DeflateGate saga, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld his four-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

In the league’s release on the matter, they stated that “important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives” during his appeal hearing came into play.

“On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed,” the league statement read. “He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ‎During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.”

As a result, Goodell did not shorten his initial punishment, which will now certainly be headed to court.

“The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs.”

Let the games begin.

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Roger Goodell upholds Tom Brady’s four-game suspension

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld the four-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady over Deflategate.

In a ruling announced today, the league said Goodell has denied Brady’s appeal.

“NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld today the four-game suspension imposed on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on May 11. Brady’s appeal ‎from that discipline was heard for more than ten hours on June 23,” the league’s statement said.

“In the opinion informing Brady that his appeal had been denied, Commissioner Goodell emphasized important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing.

“On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ‎During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.

“Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support‎, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL’s Official Playing Rules. The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs.”

For Brady, the next step is either to accept Goodell’s ruling or to take the NFL to court. A lawsuit appears likely.

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Todd Gurley passes physical, will begin Rams camp on active roster

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The Rams were prepared to let rookie running back Todd Gurley start training camp on the non-football injury list if need be.

Apparently, there will be no need.

According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gurley passed his conditioning test Tuesday — “impressively” — and will begin camp on the active roster.

As recently as last week, there were reports that the Rams were content to ease Gurley into things after he tore his ACL last November, which allowed them to get him with the 10th pick in the draft. After all, they have a deep running back group (Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham and Isaiah Pead), so it’s not as if they need him immediately.

If he’s back to the form he showed at Georgia so soon, and is truly ready to go, it justifies their willingness to make the bold call to choose him so high.

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Sammy Watkins says he’s “full go” for camp

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Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins thinks the team should win the AFC East this year and he plans to be on the practice field helping the team toward that goal from the start of training camp.

Offseason hip surgery limited Watkins during offseason work, but he said he won’t need any time on the sidelines before jumping into work when the Bills start training camp with a practice on Friday.

“I’ll definitely be ready to practice,” Watkins said, via ESPN.com. “I’ll be full go. I’ll be prepared to go out there and make plays.”

A healthy Watkins will front a deep group of targets in the passing game that also includes Robert Woods, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay. Figuring out which quarterback will be throwing them the ball will be a major focus at Bills camp, but whoever winds up winning that battle won’t be able to complain about a lack of targets come September.

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Hernandez lawyer seeks permission to question tipster on juror misconduct

Aaron Hernandez AP

The first Aaron Hernandez trial ended in a conviction. But that still may not be the end of it.

Via the Associated Press, lawyer James Sultan now knows the name of a tipster who claims that one of the jurors in the Odin Lloyd murder case participated in discussions about the other double murder case involving the former Patriots tight end.  If true, this means that the juror lied during jury selection in the case involving the murder of Odin Lloyd.

Sultan now wants to question the tipster, in order to learn more about whether the juror truly was lying during jury selection. Sultan also conceded that the tipster has had “extensive personal contact” with Hernandez.

“That contact is clearly relevant to this individual’s credibility,” Sultan said in a court filing. “Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that this individual likely possesses information relevant to whether a juror was exposed to prejudicial, extrinsic information.”

Judge E. Susan Garsh eventually will rule on whether the tipster may be interviewed, which could result in the juror being questions. Which, in theory, could result in the conviction being scrapped and a new trial being conducted.

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Todd Bowles won’t hesitate to pull Geno Smith if need be

Todd Bowles AP

Perhaps the least-deserved vote of confidence this offseason came when Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said it wasn’t really a competition, and the starting quarterback job was Geno Smith’s to lose.

New head coach Todd Bowles moved quickly to cut that talk off in May, and on the eve of his first training camp, made it clear he wouldn’t hesitate to pull Smith if he doesn’t perform.

“If you feel that his position or any other position is hurting the team, as a head coach, it’s up to you to do something about it,” Bowles said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “It’s not a year-long thing for anybody. You earn your keep by the week. You earn your keep by the day. . . .

“If somebody is not doing their job, it’s up to me to rectify the situation.”

The Jets have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in reserve, and his experience with Gailey gives the Jets a baseline expectation for what their offense could be. Smith has the physical potential to offer somewhat more, which is why he’s going to have to be a disaster in training camp or the preseason to not have the job in the regular season. But Bowles insisted it wasn’t a season-long appointment.

“A bad two or three weeks is relative,” Bowles said. “Whether it’s mental, whether it’s confidence or whether it’s physical. … All those things have to be [considered] and be determined. If you see progress among the mistakes, that’s one thing. If you don’t see any progress and you see a spiraling for any position, then it’s your job to make a move. . . . I’m always fair. . . .

“It all depends on how he’s not performing, whether it’s the first game, second game, third game. Is it consecutive? Is it just a bad game? All those factors play into it. Again, it’s not just the quarterback. It’s every position on our team. . . . Everybody has to do their job. The quarterback is an important part of it, but he’s part of the team. And he’s treated like everybody else is treated.”

The Jets have enough talent on defense to compete now, as long as their quarterback position doesn’t hurt them. And if it does, it sounds like Bowles will make a change, regardless past investments there.

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Jake Long visiting the Falcons

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Former No. 1 overall draft pick Jake Long is hoping to revive his career in Atlanta.

Long is visiting the Falcons for a physical and a workout, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports.

The 30-year-old Long was the first overall pick of the Dolphins in the 2008 draft. After five seasons with the Dolphins, he spent the last two years with the Rams.

Long is coming off his second ACL surgery, and it’s unclear how healthy he is. But if he’s ready to go, he could provide an upgrade on the Falcons’ offensive line, perhaps taking over at left tackle and allowing last year’s first-round pick, Jake Matthews, to move to right tackle. Long isn’t worth anything close to the five-year, $57.75 million deal he got as a rookie with the Dolphins or the four-year, $36 million deal he got in his second contract with the Rams, but on a low-cost, incentive-laden deal, he could be a good fit in Atlanta.

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NFL and NFLPA negotiating a settlement for Le’Veon Bell

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The NFL is apparently talking to Le’Veon Bell about shortening his suspension for his DUI and marijuana arrest.

Of course, doing so would shorten the lifespan of the precedent they’re trying to set.

According to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, the league and the NFLPA are negotiating a settlement to reduce the Steelers running back’s suspension from three games to one or two.

But doing so might create more problems for a league that already has issues getting punishments to stick.

Two games is their new standard for DUI arrests, and they can add more if there are aggravating factors. Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith got a game above the baseline, and he crashed his car into a light pole.

Bell was stopped on his way to the airport last year in the preseason, and told cops he wasn’t sure why he was getting a DUI, saying: “I smoked two hours ago, I’m not high anymore.”

Shortening the suspension to one game would seemingly take the teeth out of their new policy on drunk driving arrests, so it’s unclear if that’s a step the league is willing to take.

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Report: Muhammad Wilkerson will report to Jets camp on time

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Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason because he wanted a new contract.

He arrived in time for the mandatory minicamp to avoid a fine.

So it follows that he’s going to show up for training camp on time, since that’s when the serious fines accrue.

According to Brian Costello of the New York Post, Wilkerson is expected to arrive on time tomorrow despite the lack of a new deal.

Wilkerson’s riding out the $6.96 million option year left on his rookie deal, and is obviously hoping for something with far more security soon.

But it’s apparently not worth the big financial hit it would take to make this level of statement. While players can rack up $72,920 in fines for skipping a three-day mandatory minicamp, it jumps to $30,000 per day in training camp.

“I’m very confident, hopefully that things will work out with myself and my agent and those guys get something worked out,” Wilkerson said in June.

The clock’s ticking. But at least the meter’s not running.

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Cowboys drop Ryan Williams

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The Cowboys won’t be bringing running back Ryan Williams with them to training camp.

Williams was waived on Tuesday, ending a run with the Cowboys that began last year but never saw Williams take a regular season snap for the team. Injuries have been an issue for Williams ever since the Cardinals made him a second-round pick in 2011 and they continue to get in the way of his attempt to carve out a professional football career.

Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com reports that Williams had knee surgery after June’s minicamp, which made for a steep uphill climb if he was going to make the 53-man roster.

Williams’s departure may spark another round of speculation about the Cowboys making a move to bolster their running back group. Chris Johnson and Ray Rice are two names that may come up, but the Cowboys have maintained all offseason that they are happy to move forward with Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden.

The Cowboys also released linebacker Cam Lawrence and offensive lineman Ryan Miller. They signed offensive lineman Ronald Patrick, linebacker Justin Anderson and running back Gus Johnson.

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PFT Live: Sean Payton, Cardinals talk with Kent Somers

Sean Payton AP

Saints coach Sean Payton is getting ready for his 10th season with the team, but he’ll take a break from his preparations to spend a few minutes with PFT Live on Tuesday.

Payton will join Mike Florio on the program a day before the Saints report to training camp in Florio’s home state of West Virginia. Among the topics that they’ll discuss is the team’s decision to cut linebacker Junior Galette and what Payton thinks the defense needs to do to make up for the loss of a player who gave them 10 sacks last season.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic will also join the program to talk about the Cardinals’ bringing Dr. Jen Welter on as a training camp intern to work with inside linebackers.

We also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app.

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Geep Chryst: Kaepernick didn’t regress as much as perceived

Colin Kaepernick, Kendall Hunter AP

The 49ers failed to advance to the playoffs last season, ending a three-year string of making it at least as far as the NFC title game and touching off an offseason of sweeping change.

One thing that didn’t change was the identity of the starting quarterback. Colin Kaepernick will run the offense again this season after a 2014 season that left many people feeling like he’d regressed in his third year at the helm. His offensive coordinator Geep Chryst isn’t one of those people. He cited other factors for creating a perception that Kaepernick was moving in the wrong direction.

“And then last year, you’re playing with some different sets of challenges,” Chryst said, via the San Jose Mercury News. “There was more change within the offensive line than he had experienced the last couple of years. How does that affect your production as a quarterback? You’re behind more often in games. How does that affect your production as a quarterback? I cite the fact that we had six touchdowns nullified by penalty. You plug that back into his formula, he really wasn’t … he didn’t regress off his line as much as perceived.”

Chryst continued to point in other directions for the team’s offensive struggles last season by saying he could provide examples of Kaepernick being at “a disadvantage because his team wasn’t playing as well as it was around him in other games.” Chryst added that part of the challenge for quarterbacks is succeeding in spite of those obstacles and Kaepernick may have more opportunities to overcome them this year.

The 49ers have lost two starting offensive linemen, running back Frank Gore and several key defensive pieces, leaving Kaepernick with a team that is going to need him to avoid any regression if the offense is going to move back in the right direction.

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