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Report: Saints will use franchise tag on Jimmy Graham

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The Ravens were able to sign tight end Dennis Pitta to a long-term deal, allowing them to avoid both using the franchise tag and fighting a battle about whether Pitta should be tagged as a wide receiver or a tight end.

It doesn’t look like the Saints will enjoy the same resolution to their contract impasse with Jimmy Graham. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team will place the franchise tag on Graham before Monday’s deadline.

The development is hardly surprising. The Saints haven’t hidden their plan to use the tag on Graham in the event they couldn’t reach a long-term deal and all reports about the negotiations have indicated that the two sides are far apart.

Assuming the Saints tag Graham and assuming he’s determined to be a tight end, there’s likely to be a grievance from Graham’s camp arguing that he should be tagged as a receiver. Graham often lines up split out from the line and there’s about a $5 million difference between the salaries on the two tags.

While that fight plays out, the rest of the league will be greeted with a thinned-out tight end market that includes Jermichael Finley, Dustin Keller and Brandon Pettigrew. Finley and Keller are both coming off serious injuries, however, and the rest of the group pales in comparison to Pitta and Graham.

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Vikings place Adrian Peterson on Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, won’t be with team until legal matters are resolved

Minnesota Vikings v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings have reversed course on Adrian Peterson’s reinstatement to the team and have placed him on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list, which will require Peterson to remain away from all team activities until the resolution of his legal proceedings.

The Vikings released a statement early Wednesday morning that announced their decision regarding Peterson. The pressure was building on the organization after their decision to reinstate Peterson on Monday. Sponsors were beginning to speak up and politicians called for Peterson to remain suspended.

Owners Mark and Zigi Wilf finally elected to alter their decision and found a mechanism to keep Peterson away from the team indefinitely while his legal matters are addressed. The lengthy statement from the team is as follows:

“This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news. In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team’s decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian.

“We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization. We embrace our role – and the responsibilities that go with it – as a leader in the community, as a business partner and as an organization that can build bridges with our fans and positively impact this great region. We appreciate and value the input we have received from our fans, our partners and the community.

“While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.

“We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe and realize this is the right decision. We hope that all of our fans can respect the process that we have gone through to reach this final decision.”

The Vikings did make an admirable move in getting ahead of the story when they deactivated Peterson for last week’s game against the New England Patriots. However, they made a misstep in bringing him back to the team so quickly while this matter hangs over Peterson.

They have now realized their error and corrected it. With Peterson’s first court hearing not schedule until Oct.8, it certainly doesn’t appear he’ll be playing for the Vikings again any time in the near future.

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Nike monitoring Adrian Peterson situation, still selling Peterson merchandise

Minnesota Vikings v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

While Nike outlets based in the Twin Cities have pulled Adrian Peterson merchandise from their shelves, the clothing and sporting goods retailer says Peterson currently remains a Nike athlete.

“Adrian Peterson remains a Nike athlete. His product continues to be available for purchase at Nike retail destinations,” the company said in a statement released to CNBC’s Jessica Golden.

“We are aware of the concerning allegations surrounding Adrian. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Nike continues to sell Peterson’s jersey in their online store and, presumably, in other stores located outside the Twin Cities area. However, they are still clearly paying close attention to Peterson. They join Radisson hotels, governor Mark Dayton, senator Al Franken as entities addressing the handling of Peterson’s situation following the alleged beating of his son in a matter of attempted discipline.

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Report: Dolphins work out LaMichael James

San Francisco 49ers v Houston Texans Getty Images

With Knowshon Moreno being lost for the next month after suffering a dislocated elbow last week, the Miami Dolphins are still on the lookout for help at running back.

The Dolphins already re-signed Daniel Thomas to patch a hole in Moreno’s absence, but they are still evaluating additional options at the position.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Dolphins worked out former San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James on Tuesday.

With Lamar Miller also hobbled last week by an ankle injury, the Dolphins may need even more help beyond the addition of Thomas.

James was released by the 49ers last week after getting two carries in their season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. The former second-round pick went unclaimed via waivers and has yet to find a new team.

James has carried 41 times for 184 yards in three seasons. He’s also returned 26 kickoffs and 23 punts in his career.

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Bruce Arians says John Abraham is “more than ready to roll” for Cardinals

John Abraham AP

After mulling retirement following a concussion suffered in Week 1 against the San Diego Chargers, pass rusher John Abraham elected to return to the Arizona Cardinals this week and continue his football career.

Now that he’s back with the team, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said Abraham is committed and ready to get back to work.

“You know, when you get that first concussion, and he had a big one, I think it shakes you up sometimes and he thought real hard about it,” Arians said in an interview with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “He’s talked to a bunch of different folks, me included, and stepped back to rest. And just sitting back this weekend and staying at home he missed it a lot and he’s more than ready to roll for down the stretch.”

Arians had said Abraham was lacking the desire to play when he took his leave from the team last week. Abraham will still have to clear concussion protocol before returning to the lineup, a step Arians said he had not accomplished as of Monday.

“I had a long time with [Abraham] today and he’s more than ready. We just have to get him past the concussion protocol. He did not pass today,” Arians said. “We’ll have to wait and see when we can do it again. Hopefully we’ll have him for this week but he’s excited.”

Abraham, 36,  has posted 133.5 sacks in 15 NFL seasons with the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals. He’s had at least 9.5 sacks in 10 of his 15 seasons including each of the last four years.

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Lions sign CB Danny Gorrer, promote LB Julian Stanford

Danny Gorrer, Marques Colston AP

Low on healthy cornerbacks, the Lions signed one on Tuesday, striking a deal with fifth-year pro Danny Gorrer. The move was one of three made to Detroit’s 53-player roster on Tuesday, according to the NFL’s transactions.

The 28-year-old Gorrer has played in a combined 27 regular season games in stints with St. Louis, Baltimore, Seattle and Tampa Bay. In seven games for the Buccaneers in 2013, Gorrer (6-0, 180) made 10 tackles. Tampa Bay released him with an injury settlement this August.

Gorrer effectively replaces rookie corner Nevin Lawson, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with dislocated toes. Darius Slay, Rashean Mathis and Cassius Vaughn are the Lions’ other cornerbacks.

In addition to signing to Gorrer, the Lions worked out ex-Ravens cornerback Derek Cox on Tuesday, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com.

FInally, the Lions made another signing Tuesday, promoting third-year linebacker Julian Stanford from the practice squad. Stanford, 24, appeared in four games for Detroit last season.

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NFL won’t reinstate Rice pending appeal

Rice Getty Images

In most cases, a player’s suspension doesn’t become final until he has exhausted his appeal rights.  In the case of indefinitely suspended running back Ray Rice, that’s not the case.

The NFL contends that Rice remains suspended until his appeal is resolved, or until his suspension ends.

“After the suspension was announced, we said:  Teams have been notified that any contract between a team and Ray Rice will not be approved or take effect until further direction is provided from the commissioner’s office,” the league advised PFT by email.

It means, as a practical matter, that Rice will remain suspended until the appeal ends.  Which means that it’s critical the appeal move forward, as soon as possible.

Of course, even if Rice were reinstated, he’d need to find a team interested in giving him a contract.  That video makes him radioactive, probably for the rest of the season and possibly beyond.  So while he’d potentially have a strong argument in court if he wanted to force the suspension to be lifted while his appeal is processed, that’s likely not the best way to continue his NFL career.

There’s a real chance that his NFL career is over.  But this appeal is about bigger issues than Rice’s career.  It’s about player rights, and it’s about creating a truly independent search for the truth about the league’s shoddy, bungled investigation into the Rice case.

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Preliminary 2015 Hall of Fame ballot announced

Kurt Warner of St. Louis Rams Getty Images

A high-profile rookie class including Chargers linebacker Junior Seau and Rams teammates Kurt Warner, Orlando Pace, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are among the preliminary nominees for the 2015 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Hall announced the list of 99 players and 14 coaches who will be considered for induction among the modern-era candidates, from which no more than five will be picked.

They will be joined on the ballot by seniors nominee Mick Tingelhoff, and two contributors, for a maximum class of eight.

The list is headlined by the five who were in the final 10 of last year’s voting but not elected: Linebacker Kevin Greene, defensive end Charles Haley, running back Jerome Bettis, guard Will Shields and wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

The group will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November, and then to 15, which will be voted on the day before the Super Bowl.

Here’s a position-by-position look at the full ballot:

Quarterbacks: (4) – Randall Cunningham, Rich Gannon, Phil Simms, Kurt Warner.

Wide Receivers: (9) – Tim Brown (also KR), Isaac Bruce, Gary Clark, Henry Ellard (also PR), *Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Sterling Sharpe, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith.

Tight End: (1) – Mark Bavaro.

Running Backs: (14) – Shaun Alexander, Ottis Anderson, Tiki Barber, Jerome Bettis, Roger Craig, Stephen Davis, Terrell Davis, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Edgerrin James, Daryl Johnston, Jamal Lewis, Herschel Walker (also KR), Ricky Watters.

Offensive Linemen: (23) – Willie Anderson (T), Tony Boselli (T), Jeff Bostic (C), Lomas Brown (T), Jim Covert (T), Bill Fralic (G/T), Jay Hilgenberg (C), Chris Hinton (G/T), Kent Hull (C), Joe Jacoby (T), Jon Jansen (T), Mike Kenn (T), Jim Lachey (T), Kevin Mawae (C/G), Mark May (G/T/C),Tom Nalen (C), Nate Newton (G), Orlando Pace (T), Chris Samuels (T), Mark Schlereth (G), Will Shields (G), Tra Thomas (T), Steve Wisniewski (G).

Defensive Linemen: (12) – Al “Bubba” Baker (DE), Jerome Brown (DT), Carl Hairston (DE/DT), Charles Haley (also LB), Jevon Kearse (DE), Dexter Manley (DE), Charles Mann (DE), Steve McMichael (DT/NT), Fred Smerlas (NT), Greg Townsend (DE), Ted Washington (DT/NT), Bryant Young (DE).

Linebackers: (13) – Cornelius Bennett, Tedy Bruschi, Kevin Greene (also DE), Ken Harvey, Clay Matthews, Willie McGinest (also DE), Karl Mecklenburg, Matt Millen, Sam Mills, Junior Seau, Chris Spielman, Darryl Talley, Zach Thomas.

Defensive Backs: (16) – Eric Allen (CB), Steve Atwater (S), Joey Browner (S), LeRoy Butler (S), Thomas Everett (S), Rodney Harrison (S), Ty Law (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), John Lynch (S), Terry McDaniel (CB), Tim McDonald (S), Frank Minnifield (CB), Shawn Springs (CB), Troy Vincent (CB/S), Everson Walls (CB), Darren Woodson (S).

Kickers/Punters: (5) – Morten Andersen (K), Gary Anderson (K), Jason Elam (K), Sean Landeta (P), Nick Lowery (K).

Special Teams/Position Players: (2) – Brian Mitchell (RB/PR/KR), Steve Tasker (also WR).

Coaches: (14) –Don Coryell, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Tom Flores, Mike Holmgren, Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Knox, Buddy Parker, Richie Petitbon, Dan Reeves, Lou Saban, Marty Schottenheimer, Clark Shaughnessy, Dick Vermeil.

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John Abraham still has to pass concussion protocol

John Abraham AP

While Cardinals outside linebacker John Abraham has signaled he is ready to return to NFL play, he isn’t yet medically cleared to do so as recovers from a concussion suffered eight days ago.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told SiriusXM NFL Radio’s “Late Hits” this evening that Abraham didn’t pass the league-mandated concussion examination on Tuesday, according to Alex Marvez, NFL reporter for FoxSports.com and a SiriusXM host.

According to Marvez, Arians said Abraham would again go through concussion protocol on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Abraham suffered a concussion in the Cardinals’ Week One victory vs. the Chargers. He then took a leave of absence from the club to weigh his future.

Abraham notched 11.5 sacks in 2013, his first season with Arizona. One of the most accomplished pass rushers of his time, Abraham has eight seasons of double-digit sacks to his credit.

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NFLPA files Ray Rice appeal

Goodell AP

As expected (but a day later than expected), the NFLPA has filed an appeal of the NFL’s indefinite suspension of Ray Rice.

“This action taken by our union is to protect the due process rights of all NFL players,” the NFLPA said in a statement.

“The NFLPA appeal is based on supporting facts that reveal a lack of a fair and impartial process, including the role of the office of the Commissioner of the NFL,” the union added.  “We have asked that a neutral and jointly selected arbitrator hear this case as the Commissioner and his staff will be essential witnesses in the proceeding and thus cannot serve as impartial arbitrators.”

The union is right, on both counts.  Regardless of Rice’s behavior, he has rights.  He has been suspended twice for the same conduct.  The NFL arguably knew or should have known all it needed to know about the details of Rice’s behavior when levying the initial two-game suspension.

The league contends Rice lied about what happened.  The hearing will sort out what he said about what he did, to the team and to the league.  Apart from the testimony from witnesses like Rice, Commissioner Roger Goodell, Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome (who has said Rice didn’t lie), and others, the appeal will attack the league’s failure to secure the video of the incident.  If there was any doubt or ambiguity or inconsistency or perceived lie, all the league had to do was get the tape.

“Under governing labor law, an employee cannot be punished twice for the same action when all of the relevant facts were available to the employer at the time of the first punishment,” the union said in its statement.  “The hearing will require a neutral arbitrator to determine what information was available to the NFL and when it was available.”

Amen to that.  At a time when the investigator hired by the NFL isn’t as independent as he could have been, this process will create another avenue for getting to the truth.  By rule, a hearing date must be set within 10 days.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get to the truth?  After eight days of no one from the NFL or a handful of its teams wanting to confront the truth in a variety of cases, this appeal could eventually get to The Truth about the Rice video — and it could end up being far more relevant and useful to determining the future of the league office than a not-so-independent investigation overseen by two of the NFL’s owners who necessarily support the status quo.

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Arian Foster fires back at Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch InBev Eyes Potential Purchase Of Rival Miller Getty Images

On Tuesday, billion-dollar beer company Anheuser-Busch fired a shot across the bow at the NFL for its current domestic violence problem.  One of the NFL’s employees has fired back.

“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” Anheuser-Busch said in a statement. “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”

Texans running back Arian Foster thinks Anheuser-Busch is being a tad hypocritical.

Selling poison on that high horse,” Foster said on Twitter.  “Domestic violence and alcohol damn near synonymous.”

While drinking doesn’t cause domestic violence, the impaired brain function from excessive alcohol consumption can lead to all sorts of problems.  Ray Rice, for example, was reportedly intoxicated on the night he knocked out his then-fiancée, now wife.  (She reportedly was, too.)

The broader point is that the companies that sell alcohol, which leads to a wide array of unfortunate behaviors, may not have the best standing to preach about a “moral code.”  Beer companies simply want to sell as much beer as they can, even if it means that too many people are drinking too much of it.

They tell you to drink responsibly in the fine print.  The overriding message is drink.  And if the drink contributes to a decision to do something you shouldn’t, well, you’re on your own, Sparky.

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Brandon Marshall angry about ESPN profile: “They lied to me”

brandonmarshall AP

ESPN profiled Bears receiver Brandon Marshall on E:60 today, and it was a complex profile worthy of the complex person Marshall is. But Marshall isn’t happy about the way ESPN went about putting his life on display.

Marshall took to Twitter shortly before the profile aired to say that ESPN and reporter Lisa Salters misled him about what the profile would entail.

E:60 is running a piece on me tonight that they lied to me about,” Marshall wrote. “It was suppose to be a story on a camp. They followed me around 2 years ago and at the end put a camera in my face to talk about it and asked nothing [about] the camp or the community weekend. I’m disappointed that ESPN and Lisa Salters continue to try and tell my story in ESPN’s words. Better yet I’m pissed off – beyond disappointed. This is the second time ESPN did this. I trust ESPN to tell my story & they lied to me once again to get my interview .Media exploits & tells thier own stories. Disappoints again. Well I guess I probably should use my coping skills now. Thanks ESPN.”

What’s surprising about the profile, given Marshall’s reaction, is that most people who watched it probably came away from it with a more favorable view of Marshall than they had before. The profile delved into Marshall’s history of domestic violence accusations, as any complete profile of Marshall should — that’s part of his history, part of who he is. But the profile also portrayed Marshall as a man who realized he had a problem, sought mental health treatment, turned his life around and developed a strong and healthy relationship with his wife.

If Ray Rice is the public face of a domestic violence problem in the NFL, then Marshall could be the public face of how a man like Rice could make himself a better man — through hard work, counseling and time. Marshall may not like the way ESPN reported his story, but it was an important story, well told.

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Cardinals sign OLB Victor Butler, release two

Victor Butler AP

The Cardinals made three moves to their 53-player roster on Tuesday, adding one player and parting ways with two others.

Arriving is ex-Saints outside linebacker Victor Butler, who signed with the club today, Darren Urban of AzCardinals.com reported. The 27-year-old Butler recorded 89 tackles and 11 sacks with Dallas from 2009-2012 before joining New Orleans last year. However, Butler missed the 2013 season after an ACL tear, and the Saints released him this August.

In the other roster moves, the Cardinals released outside linebacker Marcus Benard (first reported by Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports) and waived punter Drew Butler. The departure of Butler signals punter Dave Zastudil is ready to return to the lineup after forgoing kicking for two games because of a left groin injury.

The transactions leave the Cardinals with one open roster spot, which is expected to go to outside linebacker John Abraham, who’s rejoining the team after a week away because of a concussion.

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Mother of abuse victim in Peterson case asks for privacy

Adrian Peterson AP

The mother of Adrian Peterson’s 4-year-old son, who was bloodied and bruised when Peterson hit him with a stick in an incident that led to Peterson’s indictment, has asked for privacy for her child.

The woman, whose name is not being released, says she does not believe photos of her son’s injuries should have been published. In a statement released by her attorney, she requests that media outlets stop using the pictures.

“My client, on behalf of herself and their son, wishes to express her extreme outrage at the invasion of their privacy that has occurred through the publication of highly confidential and private data obtained regarding them by the press without their permission or consent. My client is hurt and outraged that the press would publish throughout the world pictures of their minor son and publish statements allegedly made as part of the private and confidential criminal investigative file,” the statement said.

The fact that those photos became public is now itself part of a criminal investigation. The Houston Chronicle reports that information from child abuse cases is supposed to remain confidential under Texas law, and that whoever leaked the pictures and other information to the media could face charges.

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Don’t be surprised if Vikings change course on Peterson

wrong-way-go-back

On Monday, the Vikings were unequivocal about the decision to let running back Adrian Peterson play in Week Three.  In the wake of that decision, the criticism has been unanimous, loud, and growing.

As a result, there’s already talk that the Vikings could change course and not let Peterson play on Sunday.  Don’t be surprised if that happens.

It would be a curious turn of events, an admission that the Vikings got it wrong and an example of an NFL bowing to overwhelming pressure from the media, fans, and sponsors.  But as the saying goes, wisdom often never makes an appearance.

It’s better that wisdom show up late than not at all.

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Titans place LB Zach Brown on IR, agree with LB James Anderson

Zach Brown, Geno Smith AP

A torn pectoral has officially brought Zach Brown’s season to a close.

The Titans have placed Brown, one of their starting inside linebackers, on injured reserve, the club announced Tuesday.

To fill the roster spot, the Titans are adding another linebacker, reaching a deal with ninth-year pro James Anderson, who started 16 games for Chicago in 2013. Anderson (6-2, 235) will provide depth behind Wesley Woodyard and Zaviar Gooden. Anderson, 30, has notched 556 tackles and 12 tackles in his regular season career.

The 24-year-old Brown suffered the injury in the Titans’ Week One win at Kansas City. The North Carolina product has been a starter since joining the Titans in 2012.

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