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Roethlisberger calls report of possible trade request “BS”

Roethlisberger AP

We’ve now heard from all the relevant players in response to the report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network regarding the possibility that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will ask the team to explore trade options after the current season.

First, Roethsliberger’s agent denied it.  Second, Steelers president Art Rooney II disputed the notion that the team has explored a trade, even if no one reported that.  Now, Roethlisberger has weighed in.

“It is one of the most BS stories that I’ve ever heard of,” Roethlisberger said after Sunday’s win over the Bills, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  “I’ve always said that I want to be a Steeler for life.  I love it here.  I’m happy here.  I don’t want to go anywhere.  No one in my family, our camp, agents, no one has ever said anything about that.  Wherever this was made up from is totally false.”

Though we have no information whatsoever about what is and isn’t true, the reactions are predictable.  No one can say at this time that Roethlisberger possibly wants out — especially not Roethlisberger.

After the season, things could change.  Roethlisberger is due to earn $12.1 million in 2014 and $11.6 million in 2015, at a time when some guys with no Super Bowl wins (or only one) are making much, much more.  If/when the Steelers approach Roethlisberger about yet another effort to create cap space, Roethlisberger may say “pay me.”

With or without the prefatory expression from Goodfellas.

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$43 million in “new money” for Bobby Wagner

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The Seahawks have paid linebacker Bobby Wagner on a four-year deal half of what they will pay Russell Wilson on a four-year deal. And it still makes Wagner the highest-paid middle linebacker in the NFL.

Per a league source, the four-year extension pays out $43 million. That’s a new-money average of $10.75 million per year.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that $22 million of the amount is guaranteed. It’s not yet known how much of that is fully guaranteed at signing.

Adding in the $977,000 Wagner was due to make this year under his rookie deal, it’s a five-year, $43.977 million contract, with a total average of $8.7954 million. But the convention in the NFL is to look at the new money; for Wagner, the average if $10.75 million per year.

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League hasn’t contacted Patriots about email release, yet

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On Friday, the New England Patriots took their concerns about the league office’s handling of the #DeflateGate controversy to the proverbial next level, releasing a chain of email communications expressing displeasure with leaks from the league office and requesting that the Ted Wells investigation include that topic.

In response to one of the most aggressive tactics taken to date by the Patriots, the NFL has not contacted the team. Yet.

Per a league source, the Patriots assume they’ll hear something at some point from 345 Park Avenue. However, it’s also possible that the NFL will ignore the situation in order to avoid making the story bigger than it is.

Or maybe the league office will simply warn the Patriots. You know, the same way the league office warned the Patriots after the Colts complained about the — wait, never mind.

The Patriots declined comment on whether the NFL has contacted the team regarding the situation. The NFL has not responded to repeated requests for comment regarding the team’s decision to release emails exchanged by Patriots general counsel Robyn Glaser and NFL general counsel Jeff Pash.

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Report: Seahawks, Bobby Wagner work out a deal

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On Friday, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner responded to the news of a new deal for quarterback Russell Wilson by tweeting: “Can’t keep everyone.”

Wagner may be right, but the Seahawks will be keeping him.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Seahawks and Wagner have agreed to terms on a contract extension.

No other details have yet been reported or released. For Seahawks fans, they don’t matter; the team’s two biggest pending free agents as of 48 hours ago now aren’t.

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Von Miller exits substance-abuse program

Cardinals Broncos Football AP

Two years ago, Broncos linebacker Von Miller missed the first six games of the season as part of a negotiated resolution under the substance abuse policy, based on allegations that he conspired with a sample collector to beat drug tests.

Now, Miller has stayed clean long enough to exit the substance-abuse program entirely, according to Mike Klis of KUSA-TV.

Miller’s exit from the program is one of the new wrinkles of the substance-abuse policy as revised in 2014. Previously, a player who landed in Stage 3 of the program remained there for the rest of his career. Now, the player has a path not only out of Stage 3 but also out of the program entirely, if he avoids any violation for 24 months.

The development increases Miller’s marketability, as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. It also means that, like all players not in the program, he faces only one substance-abuse test per year, in a window that ironically opens on 4/20. After that, he won’t be tested against until the next year.

If Miller fails one of the annual tests, he would return to Stage 1 of the program. He’d then be subject to the new formula for determining disciplining: two-game fine, four-game fine, four-game suspension, 10-game suspension, and minimum one-year banishment.

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Eagles trade Brandon Boykin to Steelers

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In an unusual trade at the start of training camp, cornerback Brandon Boykin is heading from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.

The Steelers gave up a conditional 2016 fifth-round pick to get Boykin from the Eagles.

At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, Boykin was viewed as too small for what the Eagles were trying to do defensively. Still, this trade comes as a surprise, especially considering that Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis had been saying that Boykin was one of his favorite players and could start in the slot.

In Pittsburgh, Boykin joins a secondary where Cortez Allen and William Gay are the likely starting cornerbacks. Pittsburgh also drafted cornerback Senquez Golson in the second round and cornerback Doran Grant in the fourth round.

A 2012 fourth-round pick of the Eagles, the 25-year-old Boykin is heading into the final season of his rookie contract.

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Typo for now: NFL calls San Antonio a “team market”

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When I was a kid, I’d study the back of the cereal box while eating breakfast. In time, it became the baseball box scores from the local newspaper — back when they actually put box scores in the local paper and still had, you know, local newspapers.

Now, I’ve trade the Crunch Berries box and the box scores for the NFL Record & Fact Book. An annual publication I’ve acquired every year since 2000, it’s a great tool for eating with one hand and flipping pages with the other, with virtually stop teaching me something I didn’t already know or giving me an idea for something to share with you.

Here’s something that caught my attention, at page 320 of the 2015 edition, which has Malcolm Butler making an interception and Tom Brady hoisting a trophy on the cover.

At page 320, the book lists the top 100 TV markets for 2015, with NFL team markets in bold. Sandwiched between Columbus at No. 32 (not in bold) and Salt Lake City at No. 34 (not in bold) is San Antonio at (you guessed it) No. 33. In bold.

First thought: Maybe it’s a team market because it’s close enough to Dallas or Houston. So I checked the 2014 version. San Antonio was No. 36, and it didn’t appear in bold print.

It’s surely a typo, with whoever formatted the page accidentally putting San Antonio in bold even though San Antonio isn’t an NFL team market. Still, with the Raiders unable to work out a new stadium deal in Oakland, with the Rams and Chargers hoping to get the two seats in L.A., and with limited temporary locations for a pair of teams to play in Los Angeles while the new stadium is built, San Antonio remains a viable destination for the Raiders, either as a permanent home or as a temporary alternative to L.A., if the Raiders get the green light to return to Southern California.

Ten years ago, San Antonio provided a temporary location for three Saints games after a hurricane ravaged New Orleans. Last year, the Raiders openly flirted with San Antonio. And San Antonio presumably remains interested in bringing the Raiders or another team to town — especially since it’s bigger than five markets that already host NFL teams: Cincinnati (No. 36), Jacksonville (No. 48), New Orleans (No. 51), Buffalo (No. 52), and Green Bay (No. 68).

Again, it undoubtedly was a typo. But the fact that someone who works for the league saw “San Antonio” and mistakenly thought “team market” shows that San Antonio is indeed on the fringes of cities that could lure a team — especially if San Antonio is willing to kick in the kind of taxpayer money that plenty of other cities currently aren’t.

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Hall of Fame softens its stance on Sydney Seau speaking

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Five-year-old policies were made to be modified.

Sydney Seau, daughter of deceased linebacker Junior Seau, will be given opportunities to speak at next week’s Hall of Fame induction activities, according to Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com.

She won’t be giving an induction speech in place of her late father. However, Sydney and her three brothers will participate in the unveiling of Seau’s bust, and Sydney will be interviewed on stage after the sheet is removed from the permanent bronze memorial to Junior Seau.

Sydney also will be given an opportunity to make remarks during Thursday night’s “Gold Jacket” ceremony, which will be televised by NFL Network.

“Our goal was to try and keep our policy but also show some compassion and understanding,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker told FOX Sports. “Through all the conversations, Sydney has always been great.”

In 2010, the Hall of Fame adopted a policy preventing speeches to be given on behalf of deceased inductees. Failure to publicize or communicate the policy helped create a controversy regarding whether Sydney Seau was being silenced, due to the family’s pursuit of a lawsuit against the NFL alleging that concussions triggered Junior Seau’s 2012 suicide.

“She will have the opportunity to say whatever she wants to say but we will still maintain our policy,” Baker said. “We want this to be a great day for Sydney and her family. Should she choose not to speak afterward, that should be OK.”

The induction ceremony also will include an extended video presentation on behalf of Seau. At 6.5 minutes, the Seau video exceeds the normal video introduction by three minutes.

Now, here’s hoping that the speeches given by the living inductees will each come in at under 30 minutes. Or 20. Or ten.

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Haslam: Despite what you’ve heard, we still believe in Manziel

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Reports out of Cleveland this offseason that the Browns have given up on Johnny Manziel were unfounded, according to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

“Despite what everybody reads and says, we’ve not at all given up on Johnny,” Haslam said, via Cleveland.com. “We think he has the potential to be a good football player. Now, having the potential and doing it are two different things, but I think we’ve said numerous times that you’re not going to win consistently in this league without a good quarterback and we’re trying to make that happen.”

Haslam said the Browns are willing to be patient with Manziel and wait for him to be their starter. Josh McCown is expected to start this year, although Browns coach Mike Pettine has said McCown isn’t just being handed the job.

“I think it’s important — everybody forgets he’s barely 22 years old,” said Haslam. “He’s still young, so I think over the next couple of years we’ve got to see if Johnny can be a legitimate quarterback or not. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him or our coaches to say it has to happen this year.”

Still, if Manziel doesn’t show anything this year, that would be two seasons in which he gave the Browns nothing. That’s not what they thought they were getting when they chose him in the first round of the 2014 draft. At some point, Manziel has to show he can play, or the Browns really will give up on him.

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Report: Devin Smith has punctured lung

Devin Smith AP

With the inevitable launch of training camps comes the inevitable parade of injuries. For the Jets, it turns out that the broken ribs suffered by rookie receiver Devin Smith also include damage to an internal organ.

Via Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, Smith suffered a “slightly” punctured lung as part of the injury that occurred after making a leaping catch at training camp.

His status for the regular-season opener against the Browns remains unknown. He’s expected to at least miss the rest of camp.

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Eli Manning doesn’t care about Russell Wilson’s contract

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Is Eli Manning a better quarterback then Russell Wilson? One way to determine that could be to compare their paychecks.

Eli Manning isn’t interested in that approach.

“No, I’m not into the comparison about how much money you’re making,’’ Manning said Friday, via Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “That’s not my concern.’’

So what is his concern?

“Right now my concern is getting on this practice field for our first practice,” Manning said before the team’s initial session of training camp. “I’m excited about that and just let the business side of it just work itself out.”

Instead, he’s worried about a different set of numbers.

“Our goal is to try to get 27 to 30 points per game,” Manning said.

Another key number is 70. That’s the percentage of passes he hopes to complete. (Last year he connects on 63.1 percent.)

Before any of that happens, Manning and the Giants could indeed work out a new contract. Wherever the process ends, it begins with Aaron Rodgers at $22 million per year in new money, and with Wilson right behind Rodgers at $21.9 million per year in new money.

With $17 million already due in 2015, Manning would need a five-year, $105 million deal to match Rodgers. Anything more than that would make Eli Manning the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL — and highest-paid player in league history.

Until, of course, Philip Rivers signs a new deal. And then until Andrew Luck signs a new deal. And so on, as the cap keeps going up and the best quarterbacks in the game keep signing new contracts.

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Broncos’ Kyle Williams out for season with torn Achilles

Kyle Williams AP

Broncos receiver Kyle Williams suffered a season-ending injury at today’s training camp practice.

Williams has confirmed that he tore his Achilles and won’t play in 2015.

“Unfortunately, today I suffered an injury to my Achilles and will consequently be missing this season,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “It’s hard for me at this point to make sense of all of this but at the end of the day I understand and trust God’s plan for me. My determination to get back and my work ethic will not diminish and I will eventually get back to full strength. I appreciate all those who have reached out and all of those who are praying. You all mean more to me than u know. Thank you.”

Williams’s long injury history makes it questionable whether he’ll be able to make it back to the NFL. His 2013 season ended with a torn ACL, and in 2014 he didn’t play beyond the preseason after suffering a shoulder injury.

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Saturday one-liners

Rex AP

Bills coach Rex Ryan says he’d do his job for “a heck of a lot less [money]; way, way, way less.”

For the Dolphins, when the pads come on the focus turns to the battle at left guard.

Patriots RB James White starts his second training camp with a “more aggressive approach.”

The Jets may have “personal agendas” interfering with success, based on comments on Friday from former head coach Rex Ryan.

Steve Smith could be the 2015 punt returner for the Ravens.

Browns WR Dwayne Bowe has “no doubt” that Terrelle Pryor will make the roster.

The Steelers are focusing on their kickoff return unit in training camp.

WR Nate Washington could be starting across from DeAndre Hopkins for the Texans.

Here are five priorities for the Colts during training camp.

Jaguars WR Marqise Lee was “noticeably inconsistent” during his first practice of training camp.

Titans NT Sammie Hill says he’ll likely sit out the first week or two of camp due to a sprained knee suffered during offseason workouts.

Broncos DE Malik Jackson strained his left calf on the first day of training camp.

Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson is ready to prove that he still has it.

Raiders WR Michael Crabtree looked like a playmaker in his first practice with the team.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is bracing for the speed of training camp.

Cowboys TE Jason Witten isn’t afraid to talk about the team’s goal of winning a Super Bowl.

Giants rookie LT Ereck Flowers says he’s made a lot of progress, and that he hopes to keep progressing.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly wants a bigger indoor practice facility. (And there’s one of the reasons he’ll potentially cite if/when he tries to finagle a jump to Tennessee after the season.)

A mere 3,341 fans showed up for the first day of training camp practice for Washington.

Bears DE-turned-LB Willie Youngdoesn’t know anything” about his new position, but he’s “ready for whatever”; “I go fishing and the forecast says it isn’t going to rain, but it might rain,” Young said.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell has no concerns about the right tackle situation.

Packers WR Jared Abbrederis suffered a concussion on Thursday.

Vikings DE Everson Griffen has big goals; “I want to be the world. But it’s up to me to put in the consistency and the hard work, starting right now, to get where I want to go. I want to be great, so Hall of Fame, I’ve got to work.”

Falcons RB Antone Smith is healthy and confident heading into camp.

Panthers LB Thomas Davis is adding “Sr.” to his jersey, at his seven-year-old son’s request.

Saints WR Brandin Cooks has no doubt about his ability to become the team’s No. 1 option in the passing game.

Buccaneers WR Mike Evans says last year’s team was “the best 2-14 team ever.” (The 1996 Jets were a Week 17 field goal away from getting into the conversation.)

It’s all systems go for Cardinals QB Carson Palmer.

Rams RB Todd Gurley participated in 15 minutes of individual drills during his first training camp practice.

49ers DL Arik Armstead has made a good impression so far.

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett is focused on becoming a team leader.

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Jets promote Jacqueline Davidson to director of football administration

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Jacqueline Davidson, who has spent nine years working in the NFL, has been promoted by the Jets to the position of director of football administration.

Davidson will replace Rod Graves, who recently left the Jets’ front office to take a position in the league office.

During her tenure with the Jets, Davidson has been the team’s top negotiator on player contracts, and she received credit this offseason when the Jets landed one of the biggest prizes in free agency, Darrelle Reivs. Davidson’s responsibilities also include managing the salary cap and ensuring that the team complies with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and league personnel rules.

“Jackie has served as an integral part of our football administration efforts under Rod Graves this offseason,” Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan said. “She’s bright and talented and she has earned this opportunity.”

The appointment makes Davidson one of the highest-ranking women to work in an NFL front office. Along with the hiring of Jen Welter as a Cardinals assistant, Beth Mowins as the Raiders’ play-by-play voice and Sarah Thomas as an official, this news points to positive progress in the NFL.

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Andy Dalton shrugs at All-Star boos

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Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton played in the celebrity softball game held in conjunction with the All-Star Week festivities in Cincinnati. He heard boos. He prefers to focus on the cheers.

They didn’t boo when I hit my two home runs,” Dalton said Friday, via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I think I heard lots of cheers. I think that whole thing, it wasn’t everybody. I think if you look at a video or two it makes it seem like it’s more than it was.

“There’s a lot of loyal fans, a lot of people that have backed me and have supported me. That’s all I’ve heard. So it’s unfortunate that was the reaction, initially, but after hitting a couple home runs it was a lot of cheers.”

In Dalton’s fifth NFL season with no playoff wins, the real question is whether there will be cheers in January — or justifiable boos before then.

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Broncos’ Kyle Williams carted off practice field

Denver Broncos mini camp at Dove Valley Getty Images

Broncos receiver Kyle Williams’s bad luck with injuries has continued.

Williams was carted off the practice field at training camp in Denver today after suffering an apparent right knee injury while returning a punt.

In 2013, Williams suffered a torn ACL in his first game with the Chiefs. In 2014, Williams suffered a shoulder injury in the Chiefs’ final preseason game and didn’t make the regular-season roster.

Williams was once viewed as a promising young receiver and special teams player for the 49ers, but his inability to stay healthy may cut his career short.

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