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Report: Deal done, Romo gets more guaranteed money than Flacco

Tony Romo, Jerry Jones AP

The Cowboys and quarterback Tony Romo have a deal, and it’s reportedly a deal that will guarantee Romo even more money than Joe Flacco just received in his blockbuster contract with the Ravens.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Cowboys and Romo reached an agreement on a six-year extension that contains even more guaranteed money than the six-year, $120.6 million contract that Joe Flacco got from the Ravens.

As is always the case, the contract details will come out in time. But the initial indication is that Jerry Jones backed up the Brink’s truck to pay Romo. Schefter says the total value of the deal is a six-year contract worth $108 million.

The Cowboys have been trying for weeks to get a new deal done with Romo, who would have counted $16.8 million against this year’s salary cap if he didn’t have a new contract. The new deal will reduce Romo’s cap number for 2013.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has long said he believes Romo can lead his team to a Super Bowl, and that he wants Romo to remain a Cowboy for the rest of his career. It appears that will happen: Romo and the Cowboys are tied together for years to come.

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Report: Josh Gordon conditionally reinstated, out at least four games in ’16

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 8:  Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass before a game with the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Suspended Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has been reinstated, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday.

The report said Gordon has been suspended for the first four games of this season and that his reinstatement is conditional, but he can participate in training camp and be in meetings during his four-game suspension to start this year.

He was suspended for a minimum of one year before the 2015 season for repeated violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. The conditions of his reinstatement include his participation in treatment programs, the report said.

Gordon met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week.

Whether or not Gordon will be in the Browns’ plans remains to be seen. He was a supplemental draft choice in 2012 — three Browns administrations ago — and has played in just five games over the past two seasons.

Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards in 2013 despite missing the first two games after being suspended by the league. An appeal got that suspension shortened from four games to two.

The Browns open full training camp on Friday.

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Vikings announce Phil Loadholt retirement

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 28:  Phil Loadholt #71 of the Minnesota Vikings laughs prior to a game against the Atlanta Falcons at TCF Bank Stadium on September 28, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Getty Images

As expected, Vikings tackle Phil Loadholt has retired. A second-round pick in 2009, the last year the Vikings played in the NFC title game, Loadholt finishes ninth in career starts at the tackle position for the franchise, with 89.

“When you think of the Vikings you think of players like Phil Loadholt,” Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf said in a statement. “He carried himself as a professional and gave his all for his teammates. Phil will be a Viking for life. He was a great player and a better person. We wish him and his family all the best.”

Loadholt could have added up to 16 more starts last year, but a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the preseason kept him from adding to his list. This year, he was on track to not start at all.

“I first want to thank the Wilf Family for the wonderful opportunity they gave me seven years ago,” Loadholt said in a statement. “There’s a lot of people to thank — Rick Spielman, Rob Brzezinski, George Paton, Scott Studwell and all the personnel people. My head coaches — Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier and Mike Zimmer. My position coaches — Pat Morris, Jim Hueber, Jeff Davidson and Tony Sparano. The entire Vikings support staff and most important — the Vikings fans and my teammates. This chapter in my life is closing and I look forward to seeing what the next one brings. I’ll always love this game and the opportunity to do something I dreamed about since I was seven years old. But, my body is telling me it’s time to hang up my cleats.”

Loadholt counts for $1.75 million this year, the last installment of the signing bonus on his second contract. When he accepted a pay cut earlier this year, any potential obligation to repay the amount presumably was wiped off the books via a new contract, meaning that he won’t have to repay the money.

So that’s one area where the decision to take $3.4 million less may have helped him. But for the pay cut, Loadholt may have been required (technically) to return the money.

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Raheem Morris learning on the fly as he coaches offense for first time

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 24:  Head coach Raheem Morris of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watches on during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Raheem Morris had to take a step back to being an assistant after an ill-fated stint as the Buccaneers head coach.

Now with the Falcons, he’s had to step to the other side of the ball.

After a year working with the defensive backs (his area of expertise), Falcons coach Dan Quinn moved his assistant head coach to work with the wide receivers after veteran assistant Terry Robiskie left to become the Titans offensive coordinator

I can bring a different perspective,” Morris said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I can see the ball. I can see the game. I think it’s a great challenge for me.”

“It’s a chance to view more and grow more. I take it as a great challenge. Everything that I’ve done thus far has been a challenge, whether if it was going to the NFL back in 2002 as a young coach from a I-AA program [at Hofstra].”

But Morris said before he went along with the switch, he wanted to talk to both offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Richard Smith about how it would affect the staff, to make sure everyone was comfortable with it. From that point, it was just a matter of changing his own style, and teaching something he’s never taught or played before.

“It’s like being a math teacher and an English teacher,” he said. “You can go out there and get the curriculum and teach what you need to teach. Everybody has their own teaching style.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of what you coach. I think it’s how you coach, the energy you bring, your communication skills, your ability to learn, the ability to use your brain to bring stuff to the table and how you bring it to the table.”

The Falcons clearly needed some shaking up after last season, after an early start was squandered when the offense flatlined. But the bigger boost might come for Morris himself.

If nothing else, the shift makes him more marketable in the future, especially at a time when few minority candidates are pushing through for head coaching jobs.

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Cromartie: I’m not retiring

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Greg Salas #17 of the Buffalo Bills can't make the catch as Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets defends during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Not long after NFL Network reported Monday that a hip injury may keep free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie from playing an 11th NFL season, Cromartie took to Twitter to say he’s healthy and working towards playing this season.

“Look, I’m not [retiring],” Cromartie tweeted, adding that he’s been busting his backside this offseason to be able to catch on somewhere and help a team in 2016.

“I have a lot of football left,” he wrote.

Cromartie, 32, started 15 games for the Jets last season and all 16 the previous season for the Cardinals. He has 33 interceptions in 158 career games.

Cromartie is one of PFT’s top remaining free agents with training camps opening leaguewide over the next several days.

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Anthony Davis says he’s sent reinstatement letter

TAMPA, FL -  DECEMBER 15:  Tackle Anthony Davis #76 of the San Francisco 49ers sets to block against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers December 15, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tackle Anthony Davis sent plenty of hints this offseason that he wants to return to the NFL after sitting out last season, but all of those hints didn’t add up to much unless he formally asked to be reinstated from the reserve/retired list.

Davis sent word on Twitter on Monday that he’s taken that step by sending word of his intention to resume his career to the 49ers and the NFL.

The 49ers control Davis’ rights, although one of his previous forays into social media sent the strong suggestion that Davis would prefer to be playing for another team. There were reports that the 49ers were shopping his rights in a trade earlier this offseason, but Davis said General Manager Trent Baalke told him that those reports weren’t true.

If they do hold onto Davis, offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said “nothing is going to be handed” to the 2010 first-round pick who started all 71 games he played for the 49ers before walking away last year.

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Aldon Smith denies he smoked in front of camera

Aldon Smith AP

Suspended Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith took to Twitter Monday to deny that he was smoking in a strange cell phone video that made the Internet and social media rounds over the weekend.

Good try,” Smith wrote on his verified Twitter account Monday. “Not me.” posted a video of someone holding a hand-rolled substance in what the voice on the video called “a fire session.” Later, that same voice says something to the effect of, “it’s not like people know it’s Aldon Smith.”

Given his history, Smith is in a spot where he’s going to be believed by guilty by many until proven innocent. His tweet indicates he knows he’s on shaky ground with the NFL and he’s going to deny any wrongdoing.

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Eagles want to get Carson Wentz as many reps as possible right now

AMES, IA - AUGUST 30: Quarterbacks Carson Wentz #11 and quarterback Easton Stick #12 of the North Dakota State Bison celebrate with fans after defeating the Iowa State Cyclones 34-14 at Jack Trice Stadium on August 30, 2014 in Ames, Iowa. North Dakota State defeated Iowa State 34-14. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eagles coach Doug Pederson said recently that having rookie quarterback Carson Wentz inactive for regular season games is “probably the direction we’re heading” with Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel occupying the top two rungs on the depth chart.

The Eagles quarterbacks went through a workout at the team’s facility Monday and Pederson said that’s still the plan as the team heads toward the formal start of training camp. While the Eagles may have Wentz as their No. 3, Pederson said that the team wouldn’t show less urgency about getting him ready to play.

“Right now, we’re just going to get Carson as many reps as we can,” Pederson said, via “Get him caught up. Get him to where he needs to be. I’m very comfortable and excited with where Sam left OTAs and where he’s coming in now. Chase is a solid two. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens down the road. … You want [Wentz] to be in a position where if there’s an injury or somebody goes down, you plug him in and you don’t have any worries.”

Pederson said that Wentz needs to improve in “little things” like his drop, footwork and progressions in order to get ready to play in the NFL and suggested that he’ll get plenty of chances to do so while playing in the team’s first two preseason contests.

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Hip injury may keep Antonio Cromartie from playing again

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 27:  Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets reacts in the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on September 27, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Antonio Cromartie is one of the best free agents available as training camps open, but his days in the NFL may be done.

Concerns about his hip may keep Cromartie from ever playing again, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Last year Cromartie started 15 games for the Jets, but this offseason has been relatively quiet for him. Despite a few reports of teams showing interest, he has remained unsigned.

A 2006 first-round pick of the Chargers, Cromartie played four years in San Diego, then four years with the Jets and one year with the Cardinals before returning to the Jets last year.

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NFLPA: Peyton Manning isn’t in our union, he can do what he wants

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 01:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos addresses the media at Super Bowl Opening Night Fueled by Gatorade at SAP Center on February 1, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Why did Peyton Manning fully cooperate with the NFL’s investigation into allegations that he used performance-enhancing substances, when the other four players named in an Al Jazeera documentary are refusing to talk to the NFL? Because Manning is no longer in the players’ union.

The NFL Players Association released a statement this morning noting that Manning is no longer a member of the union and therefore isn’t part of the union’s effort to fight the NFL over this investigation.

“As a former player, Peyton Manning is free to do whatever he believes is in his best interest. The Union knows that he understands the rights of players under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and would never do anything to hurt or undermine active players in support of those rights,” the NFLPA’s statement said.

Left unsaid in that statement is whether the union would have preferred that Manning refuse to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation, in solidarity with the union that represented him until he retired this offseason.

The NFLPA is still fighting on behalf of Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, Steelers linebacker James Harrison and free agent defensive end Mike Neal, all of whom were named in the same Al Jazeera documentary as Manning, although the specific allegations against those four players were different than the allegations against Manning. The league and the union may be headed for another protracted battle over those four players, even as the league has already cleared Manning.

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Money is surely a factor in “early retirements”

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 1:  Phil Loadholt #71 of the Minnesota Vikings takes the field against Chicago Bears on December 1, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last year’s surprising decision by 49ers linebacker Chris Borland to retire after only one year (and to pay back a significant chunk of his signing bonus) sparked a new narrative for the NFL: The early retirement.

Since then, plenty of media members who would like to see football diminish or disappear along with some media member who presumably have a vested interest in its continued existence has crammed plenty of square-pegs into the round hole of “early retirement,” harping on the notion that the player chose health and safety over fame and fortune. Lost in this narrative (probably because it undermines the narrative) is the reality that, for plenty of players who are choosing to leave football before football leaves them, they’d still be playing if they were getting more money.

The latest example of this dynamic comes from Vikings tackle Phil Loadholt, who is opting for retirement over $2 million for another season in Minnesota. If he hadn’t been squeezed to drop his pay from $5.4 million, would Loadholt be walking away? My guess is that he wouldn’t be.

So, basically, Loadholt agreed to a pay cut and then decided that he wouldn’t be agreeing to a pay cut.

For other players who have opted for “early retirement,” would an enhanced financial offer have changed their minds? If someone were offering tackle Eugene Monroe $10 million per year, would he still be playing? Monroe didn’t retire until after the Ravens cut him, and then he had a chance to explore the market.

With former Jets left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the answer is more clear. If the team hadn’t tried to reduce his salary for 2016, he would never have walked away.

Which brings me to the biggest name from the 2016 “early retirement” pool. Receiver Calvin Johnson. In a recent interview with ESPN, Johnson suggested that, if the Lions were contenders, he possibly would have kept playing.

He also possibly would have kept playing if the Lions weren’t intent on reducing his cap number of $24 million and his salary of $16 million, amounts that clearly overshoot what his value would have been to the team in 2016.

That’s not to say that every player who retires early definitely would choose to stay if the pot were a little sweeter. However, for many guys who opt to walk before they’re chased off, “early retirement” wouldn’t happen quite so early if more money were on the table.

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Dave Caldwell confirms no imminent plans to sign Greg Hardy

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 8: Greg Hardy #76 of the Dallas Cowboys goes against the Philadelphia Eagles in the first half at AT&T Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Jaguars worked out defensive end Greg Hardy last week, the word was that the team wasn’t going to make an immediate move to add him to the roster.

General Manager Dave Caldwell confirmed that on Monday. Caldwell, head coach Gus Bradley and defensive coordinator Todd Wash met with Hardy and watched him work out in what Caldwell described as a chance to find out more about where Hardy is at the moment.

“It was an opportunity for us,” Caldwell said, via the Florida Times-Union. “Here was a guy who was a franchise defensive end that was on the street and we tried to find out the facts of where he’s at, the truth behind him and everything that surrounds him and just do our homework. It’s not often you get to work out a player of that caliber. We have no imminent plans of signing him at this point. But it was good to get him in and find out about him.”

Caldwell said that the look at Hardy wasn’t done because the team is concerned about what young defensive ends Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue can do this year, although the increased desire to win now in Jacksonville may clash with a desire to see how things develop for two players with no regular season experience. If it does, Hardy’s name could come up again in Jacksonville.

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Report: Jets have given Ryan Fitzpatrick “multiple offers” to pick from

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 27:   Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets throws a pass in the third quarter against the New England Patriots during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 27, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ryan Fitzpatrick spent the weekend golfing and that will likely continue to be part of his athletic schedule as long as he and the Jets remain unable to agree on a contract for the 2016 season.

The chances that the status quo remains in place likely hinges on Fitzpatrick’s response to the latest communication from the team. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that the Jets have made “multiple offers” in hopes of Fitzpatrick liking one of them enough to return to the team.

There are no details outlining how these offers differ from the three-year, $24 million offer that would pay Fitzpatrick $12 million for the 2016 season and has been in play for a while. Whatever those details may be, the most significant one at the moment is that Fitzpatrick hasn’t liked any of the offers enough to actually go ahead and sign with the Jets, which leaves them set to open camp with Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg on the depth chart at quarterback.

The Jets haven’t gone public with any deadline to get Fitzpatrick back in the fold before they’ll move on for good, so more offers and options may still be put on the table. If those offers aren’t fundamentally different from what’s already come down the pike, though, there won’t be much reason to expect a different reaction from the quarterback.

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NFL exonerates Peyton Manning

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 01:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos addresses the media at Super Bowl Opening Night Fueled by Gatorade at SAP Center on February 1, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Al Jazeera linked multiple NFL players to PED use last December, the report resonated nationally for one of them. And that player has become the first one to be cleared.

“Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, it was announced today,” the league said in a statement.

“The Mannings were fully cooperative with the investigation and provided both interviews and access to all records sought by the investigators. Initiated in January, the investigation was led by the NFL’s security and legal teams with support from expert consultants and other professionals. The investigation involved witness interviews, a review of relevant records and other materials, online research, and laboratory analysis and review. Separately, the NFL’s investigation continues into the documentary’s allegations made against other NFL players, which involve different lines of inquiry and witnesses.”

The league didn’t disclose exactly what happened during the “seven-month” investigation. Manning, who loudly denied HGH use in multiple interviews given after the story first emerged, undoubtedly denied it loudly during his interview with the NFL.

The only way for the NFL to know definitively whether Manning did or didn’t use HGH would be to receive full and complete records from the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis regarding treatment received by and medication provided to Manning and his wife, Ashley, during the relevant time period. The statement from the NFL doesn’t specifically identify those records, explaining only that the Mannings “provided access to all records sought by the investigators.” If, in theory, the investigators didn’t seek the right documents, the investigators wouldn’t have gotten the right information.

The report comes at a time when the NFL continues to insist that the other players implicated in the report — Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, Steelers linebacker James Harrison, and free-agent defensive lineman Mike Neal — must submit to interviews even though the only publicly known evidence of HGH use comes from the Al Jazeera report. It will be hard for some (specifically Patriots fans) to reconcile the league’s ongoing investigation of these four players if the NFL already has concluded that the since-retracted claims of Charles Sly, a former Guyer Institute employee who was recorded without his knowledge, are not credible as to Manning.

If they’re not credible as to Manning, how can they be credible as to anyone else?

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Stephon Gilmore won’t hold out of camp

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 7:  Cornerback Stephon Gilmore #24 of the Buffalo Bills intercepts a pass intended for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 7, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore was asked in June about whether he planned to report for the start of the team’s training camp, he didn’t commit to arriving on time.

Gilmore is heading into the final year of his deal and didn’t take part in the voluntary portion of the team’ offseason work. Gilmore did show up for mandatory minicamp, avoiding a fine that he says he’ll also be avoiding when the Bills report to camp on Friday.

“I’m planning to go out to training camp,” Gilmore said to Josina Anderson of ESPN. “I know what I am. [A new contract will] happen eventually.”

The Bills have thus far resisted the chance to bump Gilmore’s salary into the top tier for cornerbacks and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported last week that the cornerback will likely play out this year at his $11.082 million salary. From there, the Bills could use the franchise tag in the event a longer extension remains out of reach.

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Greg Jennings announces his retirement

Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

Veteran receiver Greg Jennings has announced his retirement.

“Football is over. I’m done,” Jennings said in a video on YouTube. “At least within the lines of a football field, I’m done. I’m excited to be done. The past 20 years of my life has been football, but today that all changes. This smile is not going to be removed, it’s going to be enhanced. The same dedication, the same work ethic that I put into pursuing that sport, I’m pursuing everything else with the same mindset.”

The 32-year-old Jennings believes he’s still capable of contributing to some NFL team, but he thinks it’s time to try something else with his life.

“Physically I know I can still do it, I can still play, I’ve been training hard,” he said. “But I feel as though I would be going back to football, versus moving forward.”

Jennings played for the Packers from 2006 to 2012, for the Vikings in 2013 and 2014 and for the Dolphins in 2015. Last year he played in all 16 games but had career lows in catches (19), yards (208) and touchdowns (one).

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