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Tannenbaum’s presence makes Priority Sports an intriguing option for Geno Smith

Smith AP

Many league insiders believe it’s a foregone conclusion that new Jets quarterback Geno Smith will hire Priority Sports as his new agency for NFL representation.  And one of Priority’s most recent hires was former Jets G.M. Mike Tannenbaum.

While Tannenbaum plans to focus his efforts on the representation of coaches, his long-time ties to the Jets add a layer of intrigue to the possible representation of Smith by the firm with which Tannenbaum works.

Of course, that could be good intrigue or not-so-good intrigue, depending upon the depth to which the New York media since its teeth into the various possible angles and story lines flowing from the unexpected connection between the man deemed ultimately responsible for the franchise’s current mess and the man who will be counted upon to help turn the team around.

The connection arguably has little or no relevance to Smith’s career with the Jets.  But the inevitable disconnect between reality and perception could result in the unlikely alliance taking on a life of its own, even if Tannenbaum never has any direct or indirect role in the representation of Smith.

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Feely’s presence may have been a useful coincidence for Brady, NFLPA

Jay Feely AP

On the surface, free-agent kicker Jay Feely attended Monday’s settlement conference in his capacity as a member of the NFL Players Association’s Executive Committee. At a deeper level, Feely may have served a more important purpose in connection with the interests of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

As noted last month, the NFLPA’s initial court filing challenging the Brady suspension pointed out that the NFL suspended a Jets equipment employee in 2009, after an attempt “to use unapproved equipment to prep the K[icking] Balls” in a game against (you guessed it) the Patriots. The NFL did not investigate or discipline the Jets kicker for “general awareness” or specific involvement in the attempted violation of the rules, even though the Jets kicker was the player most likely to benefit from the behavior and, in turn, the player most likely to be aware of the conduct.

Coincidentally, the Jets kicker at the time was Jay Feely.

The incident wasn’t mentioned during Monday’s proceedings in open court. It’s possible that the incident was discussed behind closed doors with Judge Richard M. Berman, given the similarities between the two situations.

In Feely’s case, investigating or disciplining the player wasn’t even considered, even though Feely may have known all about the infraction. (And, if he did, he could have shared his knowledge of the situation directly with Judge Berman.) For Brady, simply being the guy who benefited from an equipment violation made him the focal point of an investigation that, by all appearances, was a prosecution.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Judge Berman mentioned the 2009 incident in his written ruling on the Brady case. On Monday, he happened to have in his chambers the man who occupied the same position as Brady does in the present controversy.

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Sheldon Richardson pleads not guilty

New England Patriots v New York Jets Getty Images

Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was practicing with his teammates Monday. Through his attorney in Missouri, he pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest and various other charges stemming from his July 14 arrest.

His next hearing is Oct. 5. Richardson is not required to attend.

Richardson is allowed to be with the Jets this week. His four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy starts this weekend, and the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year is facing a possible longer ban based on the outcome of the charges he’s facing after police alleged he tried to elude them during a street race.

The police report stated that Richardson was clocked going 143 mph with a 12-year-old relative and a concealed loaded gun in the car. The arresting officer “smelled a very strong odor of burned marijuana emanating from the vehicle and all passengers smelled of burned marijuana.”

Though he’s only facing misdemeanor charges, Richardson is still subject to up to a year in jail if found guilty.

Last week, Richardson told reporters it was “pretty tough” to not know when he’ll play football again and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could deliver a stiff penalty under the league’s personal conduct policy.

“It’s a cloud over my head,” Richardson said.

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Report: Brady was open to accepting a one-game suspension on Monday

Tom Brady AP

Nearly two weeks ago, when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady missed work a day before an August 19 court hearing, Brady was willing (as PFT and others have reported) to accept a one-game suspension for not cooperating with the NFL’s #DeflateGate investigation. After the August 19 hearing, during which Judge Richard M. Berman subjected the league’s lawyers to a variety of tough questions, Brady’s camp seemed to retreat.

As of Monday, Brady was once again ready to consider striking a deal.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Brady was open to serving a one-game suspension for failure to cooperate. Like 13 days ago, however, it never got to that point due to the NFL’s insistence on Brady admitting to guilt, knowledge, and/or responsibility in connection with the alleged deflation of footballs.

Via Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, the league was willing to cut the suspension to three games, if Brady were to admit guilt. Previously, PFT was told that the NFL would at least cut the suspension in half, if Brady acknowledged that he was not innocent. Myers also reports that Brady was willing to pay a fine for not cooperating.

The question of what Brady would have done is irrelevant, since the NFL’s position prevented negotiations from ever accelerating.

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The “do you want RGIII?” questions are starting

Todd Bowles AP

Now that Washington may be moving on from quarterback Robert Griffin III, the task of finding a potential new destination begins. And with it comes the inevitable effort to lure another team into a tampering violation.

It started on Monday, when a reporter asked coach Todd Bowles whether the Jets have interest in Griffin.

“He’s on the Redskins and we have our guys right now,” Bowles said. “That’s not my concern.”

That’s all Bowles could have said about the situation. But that won’t stop reporters who either don’t know the rule or want to generate a story line from asking the question.

Bowles, a first-year head coach, is smart enough to know how to handle himself with that topic. It doesn’t hurt that the Jets were fined $100,000 earlier this year for tampering with Darrelle Revis, after owner Woody Johnson failed to realize that loaded questions regarding players under contract with other teams should be avoided.

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Will Washington cut Robert Griffin III?

Detroit Lions v Washington Redskins Getty Images

With quarterback Robert Griffin III relegated to No. 2 (or possibly No. 3) on the depth chart in D.C., the question becomes whether the team will pay $3.249 million in 2015 to someone other than a starting quarterback.

They just might do that, for several reasons.

First, $3.249 million isn’t a crazy number for a veteran backup quarterback. Matt Schaub will get $3 million this year in Baltimore. Matthew Hasselbeck will receive $3 million in Indy. Chase Daniel will make $3.75 million this year from the Chiefs, along with a $1 million bonus allocation from 2013.

Second, Washington has a ridiculously low total commitment to quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins is making $660,000 this year, and Colt McCoy (who received a $150,000 signing bonus) will make a base salary of $850,000, along with $31.250 for each game he’s on the active roster. It’s a payout of $1.375 million. So that’s a total of $5.284 million for three quarterbacks.

Third, Washington may still need Griffin to play at some point this year. Cousins, after a promising couple of games in 2014 after Robert Griffin III dislocated his ankle, played poorly on a Thursday night against the Giants. Eventually, Cousins landed on the bench.

McCoy wasn’t much better, while suggests that eventually Griffin’s number will be called. Assuming he’s cleared to play.

Besides, Washington owes Griffin his $3.249 million whether he’s on the roster or not, and regardless of whether another team (like maybe the Eagles) signs him. So why not pay him and keep him?

Playing him still entails a significant risk. If he suffers an injury that keeps him from playing in 2016, Washington will be on the hook for $16.1 million in 2016, due to the decision to pick up his fifth-year option.

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Lawyers are bracing for Tuesday ruling from Judge Berman

Richard M. Berman AP

During 18 years of practicing law, I once showed up for a court-ordered mediation session in a case where the two sides were very far apart in their settlement positions. Scheduled to last three hours, the meeting began with the mediator asking the two sides to state their current positions. Fifteen minutes later, the mediator said, “Well, we can either sit here and look at each other for the next two hours and forty-five minutes, or we can go do something useful with our time.”

That’s basically what happened in a Manhattan federal court today during the third and final attempt to try to settle the litigation arising from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. And for good reason; the NFL continues to refuse to even discuss a reduced suspension until Brady makes some sort of an admission regarding knowledge of whatever the equipment guys were or weren’t doing.

So now the two sides will play the waiting game. And they won’t have to wait long. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the lawyers currently expect a decision from Judge Richard M. Berman on Tuesday.

Whenever it comes, a decision could take several different forms. Later tonight, I’ll make a list of all the potential outcomes. Which guarantees that it will be an outcome that I didn’t anticipate.

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Raiders waive Kenbrell Thompkins

Kenbrell Thompkins, Tyrann Mathieu AP

Two years ago, receiver Kenbrell Thompkins became a pleasant surprise from the Patriots, catching 32 passes for 466 yards in 12 games as an undrafted rookie.

Last year, the Patriots decided to move on from Thompkins after only two appearances. He landed with the Raiders, and he finished the year with 12 appearances and six starts.

This year, there will be no starts with the Raiders; per a league source, Thompkins has been waived.

He’ll now be available on waivers to any interested team. If he clears waivers, he’ll become a free agent.

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Raiders cut Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson AP

One of the biggest draft busts in recent memory may have reached the end of the line.

Trent Richardson, the running back selected third overall in the 2012 draft, has been released by the Raiders, according to ESPN.

Richardson had a disappointing rookie season with the Browns after going third overall, and was then traded to the Colts for a first-round pick. A complete disaster in Indianapolis, Richardson was cut this offseason. The Raiders picked him up, but he did not impress in the preseason.

Realistically, it’s hard to see any other team giving Richardson a chance after he was such a dismal failure in all three of his stops. At age 25, this once-promising running back has probably played his last snap in the NFL.

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If Cousins can’t cut his interceptions, Gruden can’t stick with him

Jacksonville Jaguars v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Washington coach Jay Gruden insists that Kirk Cousins is his quarterback for the 2015 season. Don’t be surprised if Gruden changes his mind.

Gruden has already changed his mind before: He changed his mind about Robert Griffin III when he proclaimed Cousins the starter today, and Gruden changed his mind about Cousins last year when he benched Cousins for Colt McCoy. So we know Gruden isn’t a man to stick to his guns at the quarterback position.

And we also know that Cousins is a quarterback who gives his coaches ample reason to bench him. In his three-year NFL career, Cousins has thrown 19 interceptions out of 407 passes. That’s a terrible rate of 4.7 percent of all of his passes being intercepted — nearly double the league-wide rate of 2.5 percent of passes being intercepted. According to ESPN, Cousins is the only quarterback in the NFL to average more than one turnover for every 30 snaps over the last two years.

For all the criticism Griffin receives, he doesn’t throw interceptions anywhere near as often as Cousins. Griffin has thrown interceptions on just 2.2 percent of his passes in his NFL career, meaning Cousins gets picked off more than twice as often as Griffin.

That’s an area where Cousins simply has to improve. If not, Gruden is going to change his mind again.

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Josh Boyce among Patriots’ cuts

Josh Boyce AP

When the Patriots selected TCU wide receiver Josh Boyce in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft, they thought he had the potential to be a big-play player both on their offense and on special teams. It hasn’t worked out that way.

The Patriots announced today that Boyce has been released after two years with the team.

As a rookie the Patriots gave Boyce plenty of opportunities, but he ended the season with just nine catches for 121 yards, plus nine kickoff returns for 214 yards. In 2014 Boyce was largely phased out, playing only in the meaningless Week 17 game and never touching the ball.

Also cut by the Patriots today were receiver Jonathan Krause, tight end Jimmay Mundine, defensive lineman Joe Vellano and linebacker Dekoda Watson.

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Where will RGIII be in three years?

Detroit Lions v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Three years ago, Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was preparing to take the league by storm. A lot has happened since then.

Three years from now, where will Griffin be?

That’s the subject of the poll question for Monday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN. Answer below, then tune in at 6:00 p.m. ET for the show.

During the show, Rodney Harrison, Paul Burmeister, and yours truly will talk about the Griffin situation, along with plenty of other stuff. Enough stuff to fill up an entire half hour.

See you then. Which is a subtle way of persuading you to watch, by presuming that you will.

It probably would have been more effective if I’d simply stopped at, “See you then.”

So, see you then.

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Julius Thomas seeking second opinion, may miss four weeks

Julius Thomas AP

Julius Thomas’s tenure in Jacksonville is not off to a great start.

Thomas, the tight end who landed with the Jaguars in a big free-agent signing, has missed the last two preseason games with a hand injury. And now he may miss another month.

Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said today that Thomas is getting a second opinion and may need surgery on his hand. If Thomas does need surgery, the recovery time would be four weeks. Which means Thomas could miss the first few games of the regular season.

A few games is not a big deal in the grand scheme of the five-year, $46 million contract Thomas signed with the Jaguars. But this is not the way the Jaguars were hoping Thomas would begin his tenure when he signed that deal.

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Rex announces Tyrod Taylor after “change of heart” on secrecy

Rex Ryan AP

Bills coach Rex Ryan has said for weeks that he would not announce the winner of his team’s quarterback competition. And then today he made the announcement.

Ryan confirmed today that Tyrod Taylor will start Week One against the Colts. Previously, Ryan said he wouldn’t announce the Bills’ Week One starter because he didn’t want to give the Colts any edge. But today Ryan said he had a “change of heart” about that and thought it made more sense to proclaim publicly that the franchise is behind Taylor as its quarterback.

The decision to start Taylor suggests that the Bills think the way they can win this year is by playing good defense and keeping the ball on the ground on offense. Taylor is unproven as a passer, but he may be the fastest quarterback in the NFL, and his running threat will make the Bills — who are already deep at running back — one of the NFL’s best running teams.

In fact, the Bills may even play offense a bit like Ryan’s Jets did in last year’s Monday night game against the Dolphins. On that night, the Jets ran the ball 49 times and threw the ball only 13 times, and they almost pulled off an upset of Miami. Ryan’s Bills may very well lead the league in rushing attempts.

But there will be times when the Bills need a quarterback who can throw the ball. And if Taylor can’t deliver, it won’t be a surprise if Ryan has another “change of heart” and switches to Matt Cassel.

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NFL changes auction procedures after AFC title game mishap

images Getty Images

The AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and Colts remains best known for #DeflateGate, which has prompted the NFL to change the way it handles footballs. A lesser-known glitch from that same game also has prompted the league to make a change.

In a memo sent last week to all teams, the NFL informed all teams that it has changed the way it harvests game-used footballs for auction. Basically, the league office no longer will be doing the harvesting.

“NFL Auction employees will no longer carry jerseys and other game-used items with them from games,” the memo from Jeff Pash, Troy Vincent, and Anna Isaacson to all teams said in a memo that PFT has obtained. “Instead, when Auction employees are onsite, they will coordinate prior to the game with the club’s equipment manager and meet them postgame to photograph items to be provided for sale on NFL Auction. This will enable the items to be posted quickly on the Auction website to capitalize on timing and interest. In all cases, however, shipping will go directly from the club to The Hibbert Group.”

In January, former NFL employee Scott Miller removed a kicking ball from play in the first half of the AFC title game, sparking a chain of events that resulted in an erroneous ESPN report that the Patriots had tried to introduce an unapproved kicking ball into the game. Miller later was fired, as PFT reported in February.

The specific events, as chronicled in the Ted Wells report, remain unclear, but the Patriots were exonerated of any wrongdoing as to that specific portion of the investigation. Moving forward, there will be no room for confusion in matters of this nature, since NFL employees will not remove footballs or other game-used items from the game site, either during or after the contests. Instead, the teams will be sending the materials directly to the auction house that sells the items.

NFL employees will be responsible for taking photographs of items to be auctioned after the game, and then to compare the photos from the game site to photos taken by the auction house to ensure authenticity.

It still seems that the best way to ensure authenticity is to have an NFL employee physically remove the item and deliver it to the auction house. Apparently, however, there was a flaw in that process sufficiently fatal to prompt the NFL to completely abandon it.

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Seahawks make their moves, including cutting projected center

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

In addition to pawning off unwanted wide receiver Kevin Norwood to the Panthers in a pre-deadline trade, the Seahawks have announced the rest of the moves they’ll need to get to the 75-man roster limit.

The team announced 14 other moves, as they did the work they need to do a day ahead of time.

The biggest name among those cut was Lemuel Jeanpierre. While perhaps not a household name, he did head into camp as their projected starting center, after dealing Max Unger to the Saints in the Jimmy Graham trade.

The Seahawks line is in a reasonable degree of flux anyway, and this cut leaves the job to Drew Nowak for the moment.

They also released defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith, and waived tackle Jesse Davis, cornerback George Farmer, wide receivers Deshon Foxx and Deontay Greenberry, cornerback Keelan Johnson, linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, defensive end Greg Scruggs and safety Ty Zimmerman.

They also waived/injured fullback Brandon Cottom and cornerback Triston Wade, and placed cornerback Jeremy Lane and wide receiver Paul Richardson on reserve/PUP, meaning Lane and Richardson will miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

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