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NFLPA has no comment on new domestic violence penalties

Rice AP

The NFL issued on Thursday a new policy regarding domestic violence, which calls for a six-game suspension in the aftermath of a first offense and, possibly, a lifetime ban for a second offense.

The NFLPA has no comment at this time on the revised penalties.

The league informed the union that a new policy was coming. Because the domestic violence penalties are covered by the personal-conduct policy and because the league already has full discretion to impose penalties for off-field misbehavior, the NFL believes it has the latitude to revise the conduct policy.

The NFLPA apparently won’t be challenging that change as a general matter. It’s possible that arguments regarding the unilateral changes to the policy will be made within the context of specific incidents of player discipline.  With the league retaining the power to resolve all appeals, however, it may not matter much.

And while it’s never popular to defend domestic abusers, a potential lifetime ban for a second offense could, in some cases, be a bit on the strong side.  Especially for a league that saw fit to suspend Ray Rice only two games for knocking out his then-fiancée.

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Adrian Peterson: I would love to retire as a Viking

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The NFL had no comment on the report that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson told Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that he wants to play for the Cowboys after his tenure with the Vikings comes to an end, but Peterson was willing to address it on Thursday.

In a statement released in tandem with one from the Vikings, Peterson admits that he spoke to Jones but says that he never told the Cowboys owner that he wants to leave Minnesota.

“This was a casual conversation between NFL colleagues in which I never indicated I wanted to leave the Vikings. I have always said I understand the NFL is a business but that I would love to retire as a Viking,” Peterson said in the statement.

The Vikings’s statement said they were focused on the 2014 season and, as they have “consistently communicated,” they consider Peterson to be an “integral” part of the organization.

Peterson is signed through the 2017 season in Minnesota, so it will be a while before Peterson can choose to play anywhere else unless the Vikings decide to move in a different direction. It would take a pretty severe drop in production for that to happen, which will make this a non-issue unless the league decides the conversation between Jones and Peterson crossed a line.

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NFL institutes new policy on domestic violence with 6-game ban for first offense

Ray Rice Press Conference Getty Images

The NFL was roundly criticized for suspending Ravens running back Ray Rice two games under the personal conduct policy after Rice was charged with assaulting his then-fiance and current wife during an incident at an Atlantic City hotel in February.

The league was also criticized for being tone deaf in their response to the criticism, but it seems someone in the league office was paying attention. According to multiple reports, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to owners on Thursday outlining much stiffer penalties for domestic violence and making the rare admission of fault by saying he screwed up when disciplining Rice.

“My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right,” Goodell wrote, per Albert Breer of NFL Media.

Under the new policy, which falls under the personal conduct policy overseen by Goodell, players would be suspended at least six games for a first offense and would face a lifetime ban for a second. The letter also specifies that the new penalties apply to all NFL personnel, not just players.

There’s still some questions to sort out about what will qualify as a first offense (and whether it will apply to cases already in progress before the adoption of the policy, like the one involving Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy) in regard to the way charges are handled in the legal system, but it’s a quick and significant turnaround from the league’s previous attempts to defend Goodell’s decision on Rice and one that brings penalties for acts of domestic violence closer to where many feel they should have been all along.

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Brady is indeed upset about Mankins trade

Brady AP

When the Patriots didn’t re-sign receiver Wes Welker in the aftermath of quarterback Tom Brady’s team-friendly deal (with a paltry $30 million to sign), someone close to Brady reportedly was enraged.  This time around, with left guard Logan Mankins abruptly traded to the Buccaneers fewer than two weeks before the start of the regular season, Brady reportedly is “very upset.”

Indeed Brady is, per a source familiar with Brady’s thinking on the topic.

While Mankins arrived after the Patriots won their third Super Bowl title, he had become one of the most important veterans on the team.  His departure makes the offensive line a little bit worse, which in turn puts a little more pressure on Brady to make it all work.

The trade arose in part from a reported unwillingness of Mankins to take a pay cut. Mankins’ refusal, as one source has speculated, possibly traces at least in part to contentious contract negotiations between the Patriots and Mankins in 2010 and 2011, which at one point included Mankins making comments about owner Robert Kraft’s integrity and the team reportedly conditioning a new contract on a public apology, which never was made.

While “The Patriot Way” routinely includes moving on from key players a year too early in lieu of doing so a year too late, a few players get the benefit of doubt.  Mankins didn’t.

Brady eventually may — unless he makes too big of a stink about key players like Mankins being dumped.

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League has no comment on report of Peterson-Jones conversation

Jones Getty Images

In response to the report that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson talked about Peterson playing for the Cowboys when his time with the Vikings ends, PFT contacted both teams and the league office for comment.

The first comment has arrived.  And the first comment is that the NFL has no comment.

Often in cases of potential rules violations, the NFL will say that the matter is being investigated.  While that may be the case as to the Jones-Peterson conversation, the league isn’t saying so.  The league isn’t saying anything.

And before anyone suggests that the league will look the other way because Jones is one of the more influential owners, keep in mind that Jones received a $100,000 fine in September 2009 for talking about the CBA talks.  Also, Jones’ team lost $10 million in cap space for treating the uncapped year of 2010 as uncapped.

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Report: Bills have been willing to trade T.J. Graham for “several months”

TJ Graham AP

The Bills are reportedly willing to listen to clubs interested in making a deal for a receiver who’s started the majority of Buffalo’s games over the last two seasons.

The club has had third-year wideout T.J. Graham available in trade for “several months,” ESPN’s Adam Caplan reported Thursday.

The 25-year-old Graham has caught 54 passes for 683 yards and three TDs since joining Buffalo in 2012. He has appeared in 31 games, making 17 starts. However, Graham is currently listed as one of Buffalo’s third-string wide receivers.

Graham (5-11, 188) has excellent timed speed; he was clocked at 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine. A third-round pick of the Bills in 2012, Graham has two years left on his contract and would be subject to waivers if Buffalo released him.

NFL clubs must reduce their rosters to 53 players by Saturday afternoon, and Graham surely isn’t the only player who has been made available. It will be interesting to see if any clubs can get deals done in the next two days, whether they are player-for-player swaps or trades involving a low-round conditional draft pick.

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Cowboys waive 2013 fourth-rounder B.W. Webb

Josh Morgan, B.W. Webb AP

The Cowboys waived linebacker DeVonte Holloman this week because his neck injury led doctors to advise against continuing his playing career, but there was no medical reason why they waived another member of their 2013 draft class on Thursday.

The team announced that they have waived fourth-round cornerback B.W. Webb. Webb’s spot on the roster will be taken by running back Phillip Tanner, who the team is likely only re-signing for Thursday night’s preseason game.

Webb had 16 tackles in 15 games for the Cowboys last season, but his most memorable moment in a Cowboys uniform probably came this summer during a joint practice with the Raiders. An on-field scuffle wound up near the fans watching the session and one of them took a swing at Webb with a helmet, causing the cornerback to react with a punch back in the direction of the helmet-wielding fan. Webb faced no discipline as a result of the altercation.

It’s not a great sign that a team as needy on defense as the Cowboys have decided they don’t want Webb, but he’s young enough that he’ll likely draw another look on an active roster or practice squad this season.

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Report: Peterson, Jones talked about Adrian playing in Dallas

Peterson Getty Images

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson previously has mused publicly about finishing his football career in his home state of Texas.  According to ESPN’s Outside The Lines, Peterson told Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in June that Peterson wants to end his career in Dallas.

Well, I understand, Adrian,” Jones told Peterson by phone, via Don Van Atta, Jr. of ESPN.  “I’d like that, too. . . .  Well, I love your story.  I love your daddy’s story.  I’ve always respected what you’ve been about. I’ve always been a fan of yours.”

The quotes were “recounted” as part of a Jones profile, with the kind of specificity of words and sounds which suggests that Van Atta kept good notes, or possibly even had his tape recorder running.

“Well, we’ll see what we can do, if we can make that happen,” Jones told Peterson, via ESPN. “Hmm hmm. . . .  I’d like that, too. . . .  Well, we’re talking pig Latin here, but let’s see if we can do that. . . .  We’re talking pig Latin here, but let’s see what we can do about that.  OK, Adrian, thanks.”

The term “pig Latin” most likely refers to the NFL’s tampering rule  and the reality that conversations that happened never actually happened.  Jones knows about those rules; after Peterson talked about the possibility of playing for a Texas team, Jones declined to discuss the situation.

“As a matter of fact that’s called ‘get busted’ in the NFL to be talking about somebody’s else player,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Jones didn’t talk about Peterson.  Jones talked to him.  It could prompt a complaint from the Vikings, or it could result in the NFL investigating the situation on its own.

Either way, it could be “get busted” time for Dr. Jerry Jones — and it could result in the Vikings getting some compensation back from the Cowboys, nearly 25 years after they gave up a Texas-sized truckload of picks and players in order to get running back Herschel Walker from the Cowboys in Jones’ first year of running the team.

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Another suspension for a Cowboys defender

klemko-cowboys-lions-hamilton-storyimage960 AP

The Cowboys’ defense might not deliver many hits this season, but they keep absorbing them.

Via Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, the Cowboys have lost safety Jakar Hamilton for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

They were already going to be without cornerback Orlando Scandrick for the first four for violating the league’s PED policy.

Hamilton was on the roster bubble, so it will be interesting to see if they hang onto him, or use him as an example. He played in three games last year after being called up from the practice squad, after arriving as an undrafted rookie.

A hamstring injury was expected to keep him out of tonight’s game anyway.

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Browns won’t let Josh Gordon play in CFL

Gordon Getty Images

The question of whether the CFL would welcome suspended Browns receiver Josh Gordon is complicated, convoluted, and ultimately irrelevant.

As Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer said during Thursday’s PFT Live, the Browns won’t give Gordon permission to play in Canada.  A league source tells PFT that the Browns already have informed Gordon that he won’t be permitted to take his talents to Saskatoon.  Or anywhere else in Canada.

That should end it.

Even though it would give Gordon a better support structure and despite the fact that it seems unfair to prevent a guy whose contract has been tolled from playing football due to his suspension, Gordon won’t be playing in the CFL this year.

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David Garrard wants to play this year, expects a call soon

David Garrard AP

Veteran quarterback David Garrard hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2010, but he thinks he can contribute to some team.

The 36-year-old Garrard says that his agent reached out to the Rams after Sam Bradford’s injury, and Garrard thinks he’d be a good fit in St. Louis or some other team that wants an experienced quarterback.

“I actually haven’t gotten any calls yet but my agent has reached out to the Rams and to a number of teams,” Garrard said on NFL AM. They’ve all said they have me on their ‘hot list’ so I think probably something will happen after these last cuts once teams realize who is available, who is not available and then maybe somebody like myself can join a team.”

Garrard spent some time with the Jets last year, but a bad knee gave him trouble and at one point he said he’d have to retire. However, Garrard says he’s now in good shape and good to go.

“I took time off after I retired, I wasn’t doing any training and once I started training again when the season got started I realized that my knee was doing great,” Garrard said.

Realistically, if any team wanted Garrard, that team probably would have wanted him to be on the roster through training camp. So it seems like a long shot that he’d actually get a call. But if there’s a team out there that finds itself with a need at quarterback this season, Garrard is just a phone call away.

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Peyton Manning has no complaints as he’s fined for taunting

peytontaunt AP

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning got a rare personal foul penalty in last week’s preseason game, and now he has received a rare fine from the NFL. Manning says he’s OK with that.

Manning told Chris Mortensen of ESPN that the NFL docked him $8,268 for unsportsmanlike conduct and he will not appeal.

“I accept it. Money well spent,” Manning said.

Manning got in the face of Texans safety D.J. Swearinger after Swearinger drilled Wes Welker with a shoulder to the head, causing Welker to leave the game with a concussion. Swearinger is expected to be fined by the NFL as well.

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Five questions: Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan ,Jurrell Casey AP

The Falcons had an impressive run of consistent regular season success.

Then they even won a playoff game.

But last year, a rash of injuries exposed some weaknesses in the roster, and the bottom fell out, in a big way, with a 4-12 record after five straight winning seasons.

But with the return to health of a few key players and an offseason emphasis on adding some toughness, they could be poised to bounce this year.

Here are five questions that could determine whether they’re ready to win double-digit games again.

1. Are they actually healthy now?

The Falcons kept the training wheels on wide receiver Julio Jones after last year’s broken foot, and it appears it paid off.

Jones caught a long touchdown last week, and looked like his old self talking it to the house. If he can stay on the field along with Roddy White, the Falcons are always going to have a chance to score.

2. Can the offensive line protect Matt Ryan?

That was a big issue last year, as injuries pecked away at a unit that wasn’t all that good to begin with.

And with all due respect to Sam Baker after his torn patellar tendon, the Falcons might actually have a better offensive line without him. First-rounder Jake Matthews is a natural left tackle, and Lamar Holmes gives them a bigger body to run behind on the right side. Baker’s six-year, $41 million contract is one they’ll regret sooner rather than later — if they don’t already.

3. Can toughness be quantified?

Maybe by dollars spent. The Falcons piled it on for free agent guard Jon Asamoah and defensive linemen Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson in the opening hours of free agency.

Those moves at least give them a personality along both fronts.

As talented as they were, the Falcons were correctly labeled a finesse team, but a tough guard and two stout run-stoppers should help.

4. Will Steven Jackson ever be well?

It sure would help the Falcons avoid the dip created by the loss of Tony Gonzalez if they had a consistent running game.

Jackson was a consistent producer on some bad teams, and then when he got to a good one he fell apart. He missed most of the preseason with a hamstring strain, and if that lingers, it could throw a serious kink in their plans.

The Jackson of old would be a perfect complement to their passing game, but it’s hard to tell if we’ll ever see that, or just the Old Jackson.

5. Is there enough defense left to matter?

Losing linebacker Sean Weatherspoon this offseason was a tough blow, as he’d have lent some stability to a group of day laborers and rookies.

They stay in nickel most of the time, which minimizes the need for impact linebackers, but it would help if they had some veteran presence there.

They need to get a consistent pass rush from the group including Osi Umenyiora, Kroy Biermann and Jonathan Babineaux, and there have been indications (at least in the past) they could scratch together enough pressure to matter.

But in a division with diverse offensive attacks, that side of the ball will miss Weatherspoon’s leadership and steady play.

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PFT Live: Browns talk with Mary Kay Cabot, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Josh Gordon AP

The NFL officially suspended Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon for the 2014 season on Wednesday, leaving the Browns without their top wide receiver after a long wait to find out the details of Gordon’s ban.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer will join Mike Florio on Thursday’s edition of PFT Live to discuss the fallout from the decision. Among the topics up for discussion will be the Browns’s feelings about how the process played out, how their receivers will stack up with Gordon out of the picture and the suddenly burning question of whether Gordon might try to find a way to play in the CFL this season.

If you’ve got questions about the Gordon suspension, we’d like to hear them. We’d like to hear your questions on other subjects as well, so send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 during the show.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Calgary Stampeders want to sign Josh Gordon

Calgary Getty Images

If Josh Gordon gets permission to play in Canada, he has a suitor.

Per a league (NFL, not CFL) source, the Calgary Stampeders hold the rights to Gordon.  Per the source, the Stampeders badly want to sign him.

Whether the Stampeders can sign Gordon during his NFL suspension remains incredibly vague.  The CFL has a variety of rules that may or may not apply to a player who is under contract and suspension from the NFL.

Ultimately, like any private business, the CFL will do what it wants to do.  And since success hinges on getting people to pay for tickets and/or watch games on TV, it’s good business to find a way to get Gordon to the CFL.

If the Browns will allow it.  Ultimately, that may be the biggest impediment to Gordon playing football this year.

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