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Chad admits to two prior butt slaps, says he deserves second chance in NFL

Johnson AP

On Monday, former NFL receiver Chad Johnson was released from jail after serving seven days of a 30-day term.

On Tuesday, Johnson appeared on Good Morning America to discuss the incident, and his football future.  Because appearing on a network morning show is always the best way to get the attention of a General Manager.

First, Johnson explained to Robin Roberts the butt-slap of lawyer Adam Swickle, a gesture that came after Judge Kathleen McHugh praised Swickle’s work on Johnson’s behalf.

“That’s the way I’ve always interacted throughout life, just in general,” Johnson said.  “I know there’s a certain thing called courtroom etiquette, which I’ve never really been part of the court system.  It was a light tap.  It wasn’t in any way to disrespect the courtroom.  And really I didn’t think anyone would see it, because it was actually my third time doing so.”

Johnson, who remains on probation through October, wisely praised the judge supervising the process for her decisions, including the one that put him behind bars.

“I supported her in her decision to give me the sentence that she did, basically after me not meeting the criteria and the guidelines that I was supposed to meet in a certain amount of time,” Johnson said.  “With them not being done within that time, I felt that it was right of her to sentence me to 30 days.  She had given me a gift before and there was no reason to treat me any different than anyone else.  Because if anyone else was in that situation, they would have had to do 30 days as well. . . .

“Judge McHugh was able to do something many people have tried to get me to do for a long time.  Slow down.  Just at life in general.  Slow down, think about what you’re gonna do.  She was able to do that, maybe not in the best circumstances to those on the outside but I see being able to sit down and think about life and where I’m going from this point on being one of the best things that could happen to me right now.”

An even better thing that could happen, in Johnson’s view, would be to get back to the NFL.

“I think everyone deserves a second chance,” Johnson said.  “Many would say I might not deserve it.  I would like to finish my career off the right way.  I don’t want the last thing to be remembered, you know, well Chad was cut from the Dolphins for an incident he had with his wife.  I would love to grace the football field one more time and to help some team.  I’m not injured, there’s nothing wrong with me.  I’ve learned my lesson, especially after those past seven days.  And that’s about it.  If it doesn’t happen, life goes on.  There are many opportunities and doors that will continue to open.”

He needs those doors to open.  Or he needs to close his wallet.  With a reported monthly deficit of $45,000, Johnson must generate more income or reduce dramatically his expenses before his football money evaporates for good.

It remains unlikely that he’ll be earning more football money.  Even before he was cut by the Dolphins last year, his performance on the field (as captured by NFL Films and HBO) seemed to be more like the guy who was forgotten during the 2011 season in New England and less like the player who once had the audacity to don a homemade Hall of Fame blazer after scoring a touchdown in a Monday night game.

Regardless, he shouldn’t have been put in jail.  Now that he’s out, here’s hoping he finds a way to be productive (and solvent) in his post-football life.

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Victims’ lawyer fires back against Pounceys

Pouncey AP

On Friday, three people filed a lawsuit against Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, alleging that they committed an assault during their birthday party at the Cameo nightclub.  On Saturday, the lawyer representing the Pounceys called the case a “complete sham.”

On Monday, the lawyer representing the three alleged victims fired back.

Appearing on WINZ with Andy Slater, attorney Marwan Porter predicted that criminal charges will be filed.

“We’ve been in contact with the Miami Beach Police Department and the investigators on this particular case,” Porter said.  “My clients have been very cooperative with them.  And more importantly that have independent witnesses who are corroborating the allegations made by my clients.  So when you have independent witnesses who are swearing under oath to certain allegations, I think it’s gonna be tough for them not to make a charge in this particular case.”

Porter added that surveillance video exists, but that he has not yet seen it.  He added that letters have been sent to Cameo nightclub instructing them to preserve the evidence harvested via the cameras in the facility.

Porter also said the comments from the Pounceys’ lawyers displayed a lack of professionalism.

“These people were beat up, bad,” Porter said.  “So I really think that shows a lack of taste. . . .  These people had physical injuries.  The injuries were visible, and obviously something happened to these people.  And you have witnesses that said it was the Pouncey brothers who were responsible for inflicting these injuries. . . .

“The fact will come out.  The facts will come out, and the truth will come out.  And justice will be served, and they will have to be accountable for their actions.”

Ultimately, the surveillance video will help tell a lot of the story.  But if independent, neutral witnesses have submitted sworn statements claiming that a Pouncey pounded one or more of the plaintiffs, the only viable defense for each Pouncey could be to blame it all on his identical twin.

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Browns sign wide receiver Marlon Moore

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The Browns have filled one of their open roster spots with a free agent wide receiver.

The club announced the signing of Marlon Moore, who has had stints with Miami (2010-2012, 2013) and San Francisco (2013). Moore, 26, has appeared in 43 regular season games, catching 19 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns.

Moore will miss the first game of the 2014 regular season serving an NFL suspension, Howard Balzer of The Sports Xchange reported in May.

Moore’s addition will give the Browns 13 wide receivers on the roster. However, the WR count includes Josh Gordon, who could be facing a lengthy NFL suspension.

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Larry Donnell bubbles to top of Giants tight end depth chart

Donnell AP

Since the Giants will be playing the Bills on Sunday night (on NBC), the Giants are required to release a depth chart, too.  It doesn’t contain many surprises, but it begins to answer the fairly important question of who will start at the undermanned tight end position.

The official chart gives the gig to Larry Donnell (pictured).  He’s followed by Daniel Fells on the second team and Dickensian antagonist Xavier Grimble as the third-string option.  Falling in the ominous “other” category are Kellen Davis and Adrien Robinson.

Donnell appeared in 16 games with one start in 2013, catching three passes.

Elsewhere on the depth chart, injured rookie receiver Odell Beckham appears as a second-stringer behind Rueben Randle, and Ryan Nassib is listed as the No. 2 quarterback, ahead of Curtis PainterRashad Jennings is the starting running back, followed by David Wilson and then Peyton Hillis.

Newcomer Trindon Holliday, who’ll play receiver only if the rest of the wideouts eat a bad batch of clams casino on Saturday night, is listed at the top punt returner and the No. 2 kickoff return specialist, behind Quintin Demps.

Again, none of this is binding.  But it’s more informative than a 90-man roster listed in alphabetical order.

 

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Bills release first depth chart (spoiler alert: Watkins is a starter)

Watkins AP

Nothing says football season like the non-binding depth charts teams are required to release when preseason games approach.  Up first in six days against the Giants for the Hall of Fame game, the Bills have issued the first depth chart of 2014.

To no surprise whatsoever, receiver Sammy Watkins is listed as a starter, across from Robert Woods.  Mike Williams, who reportedly struggled in the offseason, appears as the understudy to Woods.  Watkins also shows up as the No. 3 kickoff returner, behind Marquise Goodwin and T.J. Graham.

With left tackle Cordy Glenn still unavailable due to a still-undisclosed illness, rookie Seantrel Henderson is the de facto starter at the fairly important position.  Henderson, who fell to round seven due in part to off-field issues, could end up being a steal, if he can stay on the right path.

In a bit of a surprise, newcomer Bryce Brown appears as the fourth-string tailback, behind C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, and Anthony Dixon.

On defense, Nigel Bradham appears as the starter in Kiko Alonso’s spot at weakside linebacker.  Alonso will miss the entire season with a torn ACL suffered during offseason workouts.

With five preseason games, the depth chart could change a lot before Week One.  But it’s the only tangible hierarchy of any NFL team at this point of the season.

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Giants awarded Mark Asper on waivers

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The Giants added a veteran offensive guard Tuesday, claiming Mark Asper on waivers from Buffalo, according to the league’s transaction wire.

The 28-year-old Asper was active for six regular season games for the Bills in 2013. He has also had stints with Jacksonville (2012-2013) and Minnesota (2012). Asper (6-7, 325) was a sixth-round pick of the Bills in 2012.

To open a roster spot for Asper, the Giants waived offensive tackle DeMarcus Love with an injury waiver. The 26-year-old Love is a second-year pro from Arkansas.

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Browns waive OT Chris Faulk, PK Jake Rogers

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The Browns waived offensive tackle Chris Faulk and kicker/punter Jake Rogers on Monday, according to the NFL’s transactions.

The move leaves the Browns with 88 players, two short of the 90-player limit.

The 24-year-old Faulk spent the 2013 season on injured reserve with Cleveland after knee surgery. Faulk suffered a torn ACL and MCL at LSU in 2012.

Rogers, 27, signed with the Browns in June. He was waived with an injury.

By waiving Rogers, the Browns have just one punter (Spencer Lanning) and one kicker (Billy Cundiff).

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Jeromey Clary takes pay cut of nearly $3 million

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Chargers guard Jeromey Clary is coming off a rocky 2013 season and started camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list while he recovers from hip surgery.

Waiting for him to get healthy wasn’t a sure thing for the Chargers because Clary was set to make $4.55 million and the team drafted guard Chris Watt in the third round in May, but Clary went a long way toward guaranteeing himself a job for the entire year on Monday.

Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego reports that Clary has agreed to take a big pay cut in exchange for the Chargers guaranteeing his entire salary for the season. Clary will now make $1.6 million with Gehlken reporting that the savings are earmarked for any needs that may arise over the course of the regular season.

If Clary recovers in time to play in the preseason, he could still wind up in the starting lineup come September. If not, his new salary makes Clary, who can also play tackle, a more viable reserve option.

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Report: Terrell Thomas signs with Seattle

Victor Cruz, Terrell Thomas AP

The Seahawks lost cornerback Walter Thurmond to the Giants as a free agent, costing them a bit of depth that they may fill with a player who used to play for the Giants.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the Seahawks have agreed to terms on a contract that will bring Terrell Thomas to Seattle. The move reunites Thomas with Pete Carroll, who was the head coach at USC while Thomas was playing for the Trojans.

Thomas returned from two seasons lost to a pair of torn ACLs in the same knee to play in all 16 games for the Giants in 2013, starting seven times and recording one sack, one interception and one forced fumble over the course of the season. It was a fairly remarkable comeback given Thomas’ injuries, which followed another torn ACL in the same knee earlier in his career.

He worked out for a few teams over the course of the offseason, but no one bit until Seattle took the plunge on Monday. The Seahawks have Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane back from last season, and there’s been positive reviews of 2013 fifth-rounder Tharold Simon after he missed his rookie season with an injury.

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Patriots snag Tyler Gaffney off waivers from Panthers

Belichick AP

The Panthers didn’t really need sixth-round running back Tyler Gaffney this year anyway, so when he was injured recently, stashing him on IR made sense.

But the Patriots had other ideas.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Patriots claimed Gaffney off waivers, even though he needs season-ending knee surgery.

It’s similar to their 2012 claim of injured Giants tight end Jake Ballard, meaning one of these days those unwritten rules are going to have to be written down.

It also means the Panthers are out the draft pick and the $96,600 signing bonus they gave him, since the Patriots only pick up his base salaries.

And the fact that Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman was with the Giants during the Ballard claim makes it more egregious, that they lost a guy they drafted because they had to have Fozzy Whittaker the next three weeks.

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Report: No timetable for Cordy Glenn’s return, but expected in time for season opener

Justin Houston, Cordy Glenn AP

The Bills have not provided much information about the illness that has forced tackle Cordy Glenn to miss all of training camp thus far, but whatever’s troubling him does not look like it will keep him out of the lineup into the season.

Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reports via a team source that the Bills expect to have Glenn back in time for the start of the regular season. The source added that the team would be “shocked” if Glenn wasn’t able to play in at least one preseason game, but resisted sharing any information about what’s wrong with the left tackle.

Graham points to the team not adding any help at left tackle as a sign that they feel confident that Glenn will be back in action in time for the season. He also reports that seventh-round pick Seantrel Henderson, whose draft stock was hurt by character questions, has “held down the fort quite well” in Glenn’s absence.

Glenn, a 2012 second-round pick, has started all 29 games he’s played for the Bills in his two-year career.

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Colbert can’t envision scenario where Roethlisberger would leave Pittsburgh

Ben AP

Probably because franchise quarterbacks without serious injury questions (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees) rarely if ever change teams, few have taken notice of the situation in Pittsburgh, where Ben Roethlisberger is grossly underpaid and the team won’t do anything about it until 2015 at the earliest.

The situation has prompted speculation that the two sides may not be able to work out a new contract next year, which would compel the team to pay more than $22 million to keep him under the franchise tag in 2016 and more than $26 million in 2017.  Which eventually could prompt the Steelers and Roethlisberger to go their separate ways.

G.M. Kevin Colbert doesn’t see that happening.  In fact, he’s gone all in, telling reporters, “I don’t see any circumstances where Ben does not finish his career here,” via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

While it remains probable if not highly likely that Roethlisberger will remain in Pittsburgh, circumstances definitely exist where Ben moves on.  What if he gets injured this year or next year and the Steelers aren’t willing to make a huge financial commitment to keep him, a la the Colts and Manning?  What if Ben won’t accept the team’s best offer on a new deal for 2015, forcing the team to use the franchise tag until the price gets so high that they can’t afford to do it?  While $22 million for 2016 could be stomached, $26 million for 2017 gets a little pricey.  By 2018, when Ben would be the same age Manning was when he left the Colts (36), and the price tag for one more year will shoot to $38.1 million for one season.

Meanwhile, Roethlisberger would have made more than $70 million on a year-to-year arrangement.  If he’s willing to continue to bear the injury risk, why not let it play out that way?

So, yes, there’s a way that dominoes fall that will lead to Roethlisberger walking away.  Given the zeal with which Steelers fans follow the team, both sides need to tread lightly for fear of catching the blame for an eventual divorce.  And, ideally, to ensure that as few Steelers fans as possible realize that a divorce, while still far from likely, could indeed happen.

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Dolphins sign two new linemen, cut Gerald Ford

tony hills steelers getty Getty Images

The Dolphins offensive line is one big construction zone, so why not shuffle the deck a little more the first few days into camp.

The team announced they had signed veteran Tony Hills and Steven Baker, who apparently are an upgrade over the camp bodies they have.

Hills has kicked around a bit, spending time with the Steelers, Broncos, Colts, Bills and Raiders, playing in 10 games with one start.

To make room for the new blockers, the Dolphins released tackle Michael Phillip and wide receiver Gerald Ford, who was signed in June.

With the bounty scandal in their recent past, there was no way they could avoid the bad publicity that came with pardoning Richard Nixon.

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Emmanuel Sanders: Peyton is a far better leader than Ben

Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Getty Images

Emmanuel Sanders arrived in Denver this offseason after four years in Pittsburgh. He immediately noticed a big difference between Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

Sanders said on 104.3 The Fan in Denver that Manning’s leadership and determination to win goes far beyond that of Roethlisberger or any other teammate Sanders has ever had.

“I feel like Peyton is a far better leader, in terms of staying after practice, catching balls, wanting guys to get on the same page with him, things of that sort,” Sanders said. “This is the first time that I’ve had a quarterback that every single day after practice — no matter what his accolades, NFL MVP, Super Bowl ring — he keeps guys like me and [rookie receiver Cody] Latimer after practice. . . . He’s not one of those guys you’ve got to chase down. He’s going to be right in the same spot, ready to work, every single day. I just feel like that’s a difference from a mental standpoint.”

Sanders said he views Roethlisberger as a winner, too, and he enjoyed their time as teammates. But he’s enjoying his time with Manning even more.

“I’ve got so much love for Ben,” Sanders said. “At the same time, I’m not going to lie. I’m happy to be part of this organization and happy that Peyton is my quarterback.”

Those comments will surely be received better in Denver than in Pittsburgh.

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PFT on NBCSN covers lots of ground in first show back

NBCUniversal Logos

The riders in that Tour de France thing covered plenty of ground in Europe during the last three weeks, knocking Pro Football Talk on NBCSN off the air in the process.  In our first show back after the annual cycling hiatus, we’ll climb back on the tricycle and pedal like hell for 60 minutes.

With co-host Dave Briggs, Ross Tucker (I didn’t mention him in an earlier post about the show returning, and he undoubtedly noticed and was miffed about it), Kevin Gilbride, and Brian Westbrook in studio and yours truly firing up the remote location in West Virginia, we’ll get you caught up on the biggest news of the day, and we’ll take a close look at the Seahawks and Texans as the best and worst teams from a year ago launch training camp.

Briggs and I also will do the fast-moving daily whiparound, which he’s never done and I haven’t done in 25 days so it’s destined to go flawlessly.  Speaking of things that won’t go without a hitch, the poll question focuses on the future of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who rightfully wants his new franchise-quarterback contract now and who won’t be getting it.

Answer the question then tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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49ers say they’ll try to extend both Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The 49ers appear willing to do business with those who will do business with them.

According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said the team wanted to try to extend both guard Mike Iupati and wide receiver Michael Crabtree before they become unrestricted free agents next spring.

We’re going to try,” Baalke said. “We’re going to work at it, certainly. But at some point, you got to stop negotiating deals and let these guys concentrate on playing football. I don’t know what point that is. We’ll make that determination as a club.

“But we’re certainly going to work toward that goal. Those are two very good football players, and guys we’d love to have in this organization for the long term.”

They can tag one or the other next offseason if they choose, buying time. Then again, Maiocco points out they’re not particularly close to deals for either Crabtree or Iupati, so at this point it’s just talk.

But talking about extending good players is also a way of extending a finger, perhaps the one in the middle, toward holdout guard Alex Boone.

 

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