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Daryl Washington’s suspension didn’t follow the usual path

Washington Getty Images

The news that the NFL had suspended Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington four games under the substance-abuse policy suggests at least three violations of the rules against recreation drugs:  a violation that places the player in Stage One, a violation during Stage One that places the player in Stage Two, and a violation during Stage Two.

While everyone involved is keeping very quiet regarding the situation, we’ve learned that Washington did not trigger a four-game suspension via three positive tests.  As best we can tell, there was an initial positive test that was the result of a genuine mistake, followed by two additional violations unrelated to a positive test.

The other violations came from the league’s stringent requirements regarding the testing and/or treatment portion of the substance-abuse program.  With the league still possessing full authority over the appeals process, it became even harder for Washington’s position to prevail.

As a result, the Cardinals currently have no concerns about Washington, and both sides believe the relationship will continue well into the future.

That said, Washington now potentially faces a one-year suspension if another violation occurs.  Which means that the time for mistakes and misunderstandings has ended; absent strict compliance from this point forward, Washington could face a much longer interruption of his NFL career.

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PFT’s Super Bowl picks


The mind can do crazy things in a two-week window, with first impressions yielding to outside-the-box ideas that can veer dangerously toward #hottaek territory. And while MDS may have made his own Super Bowl pick not long after the participants were locked in, I’ve spent much of the last two weeks going back and forth, knowing that whatever I predict the opposite surely will happen. Again.

Regardless, the job requires the picks to be made. Fortunately, the job doesn’t require the picks to be accurate.

Our conflicting Super Bowl picks appear below.

MDS’s take: The talk about this game will center around the quarterbacks, and that’s where the Panthers have an enormous advantage. Cam Newton is the MVP of the NFL. Peyton Manning, a five-time MVP, is a shell of his former self. When we talk about why the Panthers are favored, it starts with how much better Newton, at age 26, is than Manning, at age 39.

Where the Broncos have an advantage is the possibility that their pass rush can be the one to consistently both bring pressure to Newton to keep him from throwing downfield, and contain him to prevent him from making plays with his legs. If there’s any defense in the NFL that can keep Newton in check, it’s the Broncos’ defense.

And yet even if the Broncos’ defense plays well against the Panthers’ offense, the Broncos’ offense may struggle to move the ball, which will put the Panthers in good field position and make it almost impossible for Denver to keep Carolina off the scoreboard. That’s how I see this game playing out: A battle of field position that the Panthers ultimately win.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 27, Broncos 20.

Florio’s take: I’m getting sick of saying, “We should have seen it coming.” Whether in recent Super Bowls or Denver’s playoff run, we fall in love with the favorite and the underdog finds a way to win and we say, “We should have seen it coming.” For a change, I want to see it coming before it happens.

I want to envision before it happens that the Broncos have developed and executed a ball-control game plan, with running back C.J. Anderson adding significantly to the 72 yards gained in each of his team’s two postseason victories. I want to envision before it happens quarterback Peyton Manning milking the clock on every snap, chewing up large chunks of the 40-second play clock and shortening the game. I want to envision before it happens the Panthers offense stuck on the sideline and frustrated as the Broncos dink and dunk their way down the field. I want to envision before it happens no turnovers from the Broncos, specifically no snaps whizzing by Manning’s head on the opening drive of the game. I want to envision before it happens Manning playing better than he has all year, combining full health with the abandon that comes from playing each game as if it’s his last because this one, with a win, undoubtedly will be.

I want to envision before it happens a defensive effort orchestrated by coordinator Wade Phillips, who has coached in the NFL for decades and never has been crowned a champion. I want to envision before it happens Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Malik Jackson, and Derek Wolfe chasing and harassing Cam Newton more than he has been chased and harassed all year. I want to envision before it happens Denver not giving tight end Greg Olsen a free release from the line of scrimmage, either by roughing him up with linebackers or putting cornerback Aqib Talib on him, one on one. I want to envision before it happens Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby blanketing Ted Ginn and Corey Brown like they did Green Bay’s receivers, the night Aaron Rodgers inexplicably generated fewer than 80 passing yards. I want to envision before it happens one of the team’s starting safeties not pulling a Rahim Moore and badly misplaying a critical deep throw.

I want to envision before it happens the Sheriff standing under falling confetti, soaking up one last time the sights and sounds of a football stadium immediately after a big game. I want to envision before it happens said Sheriff ambling off the field with a silver trophy tucked in his back pocket, and the Panthers vowing to be back again soon to get one of their own, because they will be.

Ultimately, I want to envision before it happens everyone else saying, “We should have seen it coming” and me, for once, saying, “I did.”

Florio’s pick: Broncos 26, Panthers 23.

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NFL defers to state law, when it wants to


Even if the owners would like to see a less evasive Commissioner Roger Goodell, they pay him millions in part to be the pin cushion for the scrutiny and criticism of their business practices. He earned a bonus on Friday when trying to reconcile the league’s positions on marijuana and daily fantasy.

Vastly different on the surface, the issues link together on the question of what state law does and doesn’t allow. State law allows DFS? We’ll embrace it. State law allows marijuana use? We don’t care.

“We always review our drug policy,” Goodell said at Friday’s press conference regarding the possibility of adjusting the league’s prohibition on marijuana use given the gradual expansion of its permissible uses, both medicinally and recreationally. “That is something that our medical professionals do on a regular basis. We have had discussions with them in the past about that, not recently. They have opposed that. We are not restricted obviously by the state laws. It’s an NFL policy and we believe it’s the correct policy, for now, in the best interest of our players and the long-term health of our players. I don’t foresee a change in that clearly in the short term but we’ll continue to be in touch with our medical personnel. If that changes, we’ll discuss it.”

Even with increasing anecdotal evidence regarding the benefits of medical marijuana for football players, Goodell isn’t ready to change the league’s position.

“I don’t distinguish between the medical marijuana and marijuana issue in the context of my previous answer,” he said.  “Our medical professionals look at that. That is exactly what we talked to them about.  I would assume that it would be used in a medical circumstance or if it is even in recreational, our medical professionals look at it in both ways and determine whether they think it is in the best interest to do that. Yes, I agree there has been changes, but not significant enough changes that our medical personnel have changed their view. Until they do, then I don’t expect that we will change our view.”

So who cares if state law allows it? Father Football knows best, and the NFL will continue to reach into the private lives of players and prevent them from doing what they legally could otherwise do, in certain states.

With daily fantasy, the NFL is willing to take full advantage of partnerships with companies that do business in states where this specific form of non-gambling gambling is legal — and in states where the law is unsettled and litigation to determine its legality has been filed.

“I don’t make that determination,” Goodell said regarding the legality of daily fantasy. “Each state makes that determination. We are obviously going to follow the law. We’re going to abide by that in every which way. I said before that I think as it relates to daily fantasy there needs to be more consumer protection. I want that for our fans. I think our fans deserve that. But the primary interest I have is in the integrity of the game. So, that’s why we’ve opposed sports gambling in the past. When it comes to daily fantasy, I think there’s a different issue here. You have mash-ups of players. There are different issues that are raised that are not raised with sports gambling or traditional sports gambling. But, we are obviously working with all officials in each state. We will cooperate fully, and we will also abide by the law. I think for our long-term growth, fantasy football is more than daily fantasy. Fantasy football is fun. It’s something that I think our fans love to enjoy, but we also make sure – we have to make sure – that we’re protecting our fans at all times.”

Yes, Father Football will protect the fans from others. And Father Football will continue to protect the players from themselves — primarily because Father Football realizes that any change to the marijuana policy becomes a matter of collecting bargaining. Which requires the NFL Players Association to protect the players from Father Football, who will never relax the rules on marijuana without a concession or two (or more) from the players.

Through it all, discussions about what state law does or doesn’t allow represent the carefully-massaged talking points aimed at publicly justifying the things the NFL privately has decided to do, with Goodell being the public face and voice of positions that at time hopelessly conflict.

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Goodell calls a franchise in London a “realistic possibility”

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings play in the first quarter of their NFL football game at Wembley Stadium in London Reuters

Although the NFL is focused more right now on making regular visits to London, the league may eventually have a team there permanently.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday that he sees continued growth in the NFL’s popularity in the United Kingdom, and it could continue to grow to the point where a franchise is there.

“Every time we give our U.K. fans, and I think this is true on a global basis, an opportunity to engage with football, the fans want more, and the key to our strategy several years ago was to give them the real thing, regular season games, and I think that’s worked,” Goodell said. “I think fans have appreciated that. Every year I go back to London, I see the fans are more sophisticated. They understand the game more. They’re following it more. We expect a big audience will be in the U.K. watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, Monday morning I think their time. That’s exciting for us. We are considering playing more games in the U.K. It’s a balancing act with our schedule. As you know, we’re playing in two different stadiums this year, so that gives us a little bit more flexibility in how we do that, but I believe the future will see more games in the U.K. As far as a franchise, let’s continue to grow. Let’s continue to see that excitement and enthusiasm, passion and support continue to develop. If it does, I think that’s a realistic possibility.”

The league would still have to figure out all kinds of logistical issues before a team in London could be feasible, and a franchise there is several years off if it ever happens. But now that the NFL has finally filled its vacancy in Los Angeles, speculation may now turn to whether a team will move to London.

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Dallas Police launch criminal investigation into Manziel incident

Johnny Manziel AP

Dallas Police have opened an investigation into last weekend’s alleged domestic violence incident involving Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.

A police statement Friday night said “detectives will thoroughly investigate the case” and that the department considers this to be an ongoing investigation. Thursday, police had said they considered the case to be closed and would not file charges against Manziel.

Manziel’s ex-girlfriend, Collen Crowley, alleges that Manziel struck her and dragged her by hair last Friday night or Saturday morning. She was granted an order of protection from Manziel on Friday.

Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam told reporters Friday that team employees have not been able to reach Manziel. Earlier in the week, the Browns released a statement that essentially said they’re ready to move on from the No. 22 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Manziel’s father said Friday that he fears for his son’s life.

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Goodell reiterate PSI checks were not a “research project”


The more the NFL says about its PSI measurements during the 2015 season, the less sense it makes.

During his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference, Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about his recent proclamation that the league found no violations of the rules when randomly testing footballs throughout the season. So our good friend Tom Curran of CSN New England asked what is a “violation” in this setting and were any of the measurements under 12.5 PSI — a distinct possibility due to the operation of the Ideal Gas Law?

If the owners are hoping for less evasiveness from Goodell, they didn’t get it in response to the PSI question.

“A couple of things.  One, as you know, at the beginning of the season, we made changes to our protocols of how we were going to manage the footballs,” Goodell said.  “That’s how they were going to be managed from the moment they were taken into the stadium to right after the game.  We have implemented that.  As part of that — and it happens in most of our game operations areas — we conduct random checks.  We make sure that clubs understand that we will look at that type of procedure and make sure that there are no violations of that.  We did that in a very limited basis, but we don’t disclose all the specifics on that because it’s meant as a deterrent.  If you tell everybody how many times you’re checking and which games you’re checking, it’s not much of a deterrent.  It’s a deterrent when they think that game may be being checked.

“It’s also important that the data that was collected in that was not data for research.  It was collected just to see there was a violation.  Our people never found a violation.  There was never an accusation of a violation by any other club.  So, we’re comfortable that this policy, this rule, was followed by our clubs and we do this across the board in our game operations.  There are many areas of our game operations that require that type of thing.

“Second of all, we did a great deal of research, scientific analysis last year.  That was part of the whole appeal hearing.  There was Ted Wells’ report, where he went and got independent people to study this type of issue, so the intent of what we were doing was not a research project.  It was to make sure that our policies were followed, just as we do in other areas of our game operations.”

So, basically, the NFL decided not to gather real-time, in-game data regarding the operation of football air pressure during actual football games because Ted Wells and his second-hand-smoke-doesn’t-cause-cancer flunkies from Exponent already had determined that the measurements taken from footballs during halftime of the January 2015 AFC title game prove that someone from the Patriots organization had deliberately released air from the footballs before kickoff.

Experiments in a laboratory setting are fine and dandy (is anything ever dandy without also being fine?), but there’s no substitute for gathering actual field data to determine how things work in the real world. Given that the league had no idea that air pressure drops when footballs are taken into the cold and that the NFL never before has measured air pressure at halftime or at any time in any game ever played, why not conduct a research study?

Again, the NFL didn’t do it because the NFL knew that the numbers would show that the evidence harvested during the Colts-Patriots game was inconclusive at best. It’s so obvious at this point that to suggest otherwise offends the intelligence of those of even limited intelligence, like me.

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Goodell “hopeful” Josh Gordon understands he has to act differently

Josh Gordon AP

It’s been a little more than a year since Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after a third violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, which means he’s been eligible to begin the process of getting reinstated for a couple of months.

At his Friday press conference in San Francisco, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that Gordon has formally applied for reinstatement and outlined what needs to happen in order for Gordon to return to the football field.

“We did get the letter from Josh,” Goodell said. “The process is that we’ll go back and we’ll look at how he’s conducted himself over the last several months, what he’s done to make sure it’s consistent with the terms of a suspension and at some stage, we’ll have a report on that and I will engage with our people to understand where he is, where he’s been but most importantly where he’s going.  When these things happen, it’s about trying to avoid them in the future.  Our number one issue here is to prevent these things from happening.  I’m hopeful that Josh understands that he’s going to have to conduct himself differently going forward to be a member of the NFL and to be representing the Cleveland Browns, or any team in the NFL.”

League spokesman Greg Aiello said last month that players “must demonstrate sustained abstinence” if they hope to be reinstated and often submit testing records to show that they have avoided the substances that got them suspended in the first place. Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland reports Gordon “is confident he has met” the terms necessary to return to the field.

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Romo: Not conclusive that I’ll have collarbone surgery

Tony Romo AP

During his appearance on PFT Live from Radio Row in San Francisco on Friday, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo confirmed a report that he’ll be waiting about a month before making a decision about having surgery on the left collarbone he broke twice during the 2015 season.

Romo said that the plan is to “find the bone density and see how strong it is and make a decision” three or four weeks from now about whether to have an operation.

“There’s no conclusive anything,” Romo said. “I think you just want to make sure — a silly thing in some ways, I understand it’s an injury — but a little collarbone which really hurts our football team and our season when that happens. I just want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Romo said he’s otherwise healthy and that his sometimes balky back feels the best it’s felt in two or three years. He also reiterated that he’s fine with the Cowboys taking a quarterback with the fourth overall pick, saying that he learned a while ago that “if you’re worried about your job you’re probably not as good as you think.”

To hear everything Romo said during his visit, check out the video of his appearance.

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Every player on final Super Bowl injury report is probable

during practice at Stanford Stadium on February 4, 2016 in Stanford, California. The Broncos will play the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016. Getty Images

Thomas Davis is playing in the Super Bowl with a broken arm.

So you can bet anyone else that’s even close isn’t going to use whatever injury they have as an excuse.

Every player listed on the final injury report for Super Bowl 50 is probable, with three Panthers and 10 Broncos getting the designation that translate to a virtual certainty they’ll play.

For Carolina, Davis, defensive end Jared Allen (foot) and fullback Mike Tolbert (knee) all participated fully in Friday’s practice.

For Denver, all 10 players on their report also participated fully: Quarterback Peyton Manning (foot), tight end Owen Daniels (knees), linebacker Todd Davis (shoulder), cornerback Chris Harris (shoulder), linebacker Brandon Marshall (ankle), guard Evan Mathis (ankle), safety Darian Stewart (knee), guard Louis Vasquez (knee), safety T.J. Ward (ankle) and linebacker DeMarcus Ware (knee, back).

So while both teams lost guys over the course of the season who they might have been able to use Sunday night, there are at least no concerns about the guys who remain on the active roster.

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Report: Bowlen home following “lengthy” hospital stay

John Elway, Pat Bowlen, John Fox

Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen had a lengthy stay in the hospital before the team’s playoff run, a Denver Post report said Friday.

The report cited an NFL source that said Bowlen had a blood clot and has since returned home to rest. Bowlen, 71, is battling Alzheimer’s and resigned day-to-day control of the team in 2014. The Pat Bowlen Trust, established more than a decade ago, retains ownership of the team and will eventually pass it on to one of Bowlen’s seven children.

Bowlen bought the Broncos in 1984. Sunday’s Super Bowl is the team’s seventh under his ownership.

Bowlen was inducted into the team’s ring of honor last November.

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Judge signs protective order keeping Manziel away from ex-girlfriend

Johnny Manziel AP

No criminal charges will be filed by the Dallas Police Department against Johnny Manziel after his ex-girlfriend accused him of hitting her with an open hand and throwing her into a car, but the lack of charges didn’t stop a judge in Tarrant County from barring Manziel from further interactions with the woman.

Rebecca Lopez of WFAA reports that a judge found “reason to believe that family violence occurred” during the incident and, as a result, signed a protective order that keeps Manziel from having contact with her for the next two years. Manziel has also been ordered to pay $12,000 in legal fees.

Manziel remains under contract to the Browns, although that’s expected to change when the new league year begins March 9. His repeated off-field problems are sure to chill interest in being the next team to have him as an employee, although that pattern of issues suggests Manziel needs to get his life in order before worrying about his future on the gridiron.

Offers to help him to do that have come from several directions in recent days, although Manziel’s father said that his son has thus far declined pleas to enter rehab.

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Giants owner doesn’t think Titans ownership is a major concern

Titans co-owner Amy Adams Strunk and Nissan North America chairman Jose Munoz are congratulated by guests after an announcement that LP Field will now be called Nissan Stadium, Thursday June 25, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. The naming rights are subject to approval by the NFL and Metro Government Authority. (George Walker IV/The Tennessean via AP) NO SALES AP

The NFL has expressed concerns about the Titans ownership in recent months, specifically the lack of a clear succession plan.

But while commissioner Roger Goodell talked around those issues Friday, one influential owner said he didn’t think it was a tremendous concern.

According to Paul Kuharsky of, Giants owner John Mara said he didn’t have a close relationship with owner Amy Adams Strunk, but didn’t seem in a panic about it.

“I really don’t know her,” Mara said. “I mean I’ve met her a couple of times but I really don’t know her, . . . I know [team president] Steve Underwood is a very capable executive. But I don’t have enough knowledge about what’s going on ownership-wise. I just know they have a good man in Steve.

I don’t know if it’s a major issue, no. I don’t think so. As long as you have a good, capable executive running the team, which I think Steve is, and I think they’ve got a good team, a good coach and a good general manager. They’ll be fine.”

Goodell was predictably vague when asked about the problems during his press conference.

“We have ownership policies, the ownership policies are lengthy, but essentially they require a single owner, to represent the club locally, but also at the league level,” he said. “We work on the basis of 32 individual owners, each having a vote. When league matters come up, whatever they may be, we work on a vote of 24 of the 32. It’s a very important principle to owners and their partners.

“They want to know who their partner is, they want to know who’s responsible for how the team is operated locally and they want to know that their partner is sitting at the table when they are making difficult decisions. So we will try to encourage our policies to encourage that type of behavior.

“We have to continue to work with the Tennessee ownership group to see how that’s going to conform with our policies. We’ll be meeting with our finance committee in the next few weeks. That’s a subject we’ll be discussing.”

Strunk owns 33 percent of the team, but Bud Adams’ heirs agreed to have her front the group. But she skipped the last round of owners meetings which were in Houston, near her home, which seemed an apparent finger to the eye of the league.

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Eli jokes Giants could probably find spot for Peyton if he wants to be quality control coach

Peyton Manning, Eli Manning

Giants quarterback Eli Manning was a guest on Friday’s edition of PFT Live from Radio Row in San Francisco and Mike Florio asked him the question you’d expect given the focus on his brother this week.

Eli gave the answer you’d expect, which is that no one knows whether Peyton will be calling it a career after Super Bowl 50. The youngest Manning brother did say with a smile that he’d be happy to play for his brother if he decides to transition to life as a coach in 2016.

“I think if Peyton wants to come and be a quality control [coach] for the New York Giants and work in the quarterback room … earn his ropes, earn his way into the coaching routine I think we could probably open up a spot for him,” Manning said. 

As for his actual coaches, Manning said he’s happy to still be working with Ben McAdoo and expressed gratitude for what he learned about football and life from Tom Coughlin over their 12 years working together.

Manning also shared stories about the worst torture he faced from Peyton while they were growing up and his thoughts about being a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award during an entertaining visit.

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Hospital fires two employees for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul records

Jason Pierre-Paul AP

Well, this isn’t going to make people want to tell us secrets.

Via Jordan Raanan of, the Miami hospital which was treating Pierre-Paul has fired two employees who leaked medical records to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The two individuals were fired from Jackson Memorial Hospital, which has been investigating the leak since shortly after the July 4 fireworks accident which cost the Giants defensive end a finger and other parts of his right hand.

“During the investigation of a breach that occurred in July 2015, Jackson Health System became a party to related litigation,” the statement from the hospital read. “It is our policy that we do not comment during pending litigation. That litigation has now been settled. As part of our investigation into the breach, it was discovered that two employees inappropriately accessed the patient’s health record. That finding resulted in the termination of both employees. Protecting the privacy of our patients is a top priority at Jackson Health System. Any time we have allegations of a breach, we immediately and thoroughly investigate.”

Schefter published the records, which included part of a record of another patient, while Pierre-Paul was having surgery to remove the right index finger. In the immediate aftermath, he hedged as to whether he should have published the records as opposed to just going with the information.

That decision led to two people losing jobs, and an apparent privacy claim settlement.

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Ron Rivera: Thomas Davis and Jared Allen will start Sunday

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 02:  Defensive End Jared Allen #69 of the Carolina Panther addresses the media prior to Super Bowl 50 at the San Jose Convention Center/ San Jose Marriott on February 2, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers have few injuries to worry about going into the Super Bowl, and they’re not even all that worried about the two guys coming off broken bones.

Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said that linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive end Jared Allen were going to start Sunday.

“The only last hurdle is the conversation I have to have with the doctors, just to make sure they’re feeling comfortable, but I’d be surprised if it was anything different,” Rivera said. “I was real pleased with what we got from both those guys. I’m excited about having them back on the football field.”

Davis had surgery last Monday to get a plate and screws inserted into his broken right arm, while Allen has been getting treatment for a broken bone in his foot.

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Jets sign CFL pass rusher Freddie Bishop

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 30:  Freddie Bishop III #95 of the Calgary Stampeders celebrates after sacking Zach Collaros #4 of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the 102nd Grey Cup Championship Game at BC Place November 30, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets have had to face Dolphins edge rusher Cameron Wake many times since Wake left the CFL for Miami in 2009 and started racking up the 70 career sacks he’s recorded over the last seven seasons.

Now the Jets hope that they can get some of the same success from a Canadian import of their own. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Jets have signed edge rusher Freddie Bishop to a two-year contract.

Bishop, who visited with several teams, is coming off an 11 sack season for the Calgary Stampeders. He had three sacks in his first year with the team and spent some time in 2013 with the Lions after wrapping up his college career at Western Michigan.

Schefter reports that the Jets also signed kicker Kyle Brindza to a future contract. Brindza opened the year as the Buccaneers’ kicker, but lost the job after missing six field goals and two extra points in the first four weeks of the year.

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