Jerry Jones says he won’t sue over Goodell contract

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has threatened to sue over Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension. Jones won’t be following through on it.

Jones told Jarrett Bell of USA Today that no lawsuit will be filed regarding the five-year deal that the Compensation Committee received unanimous authorization in May to execute.

But Jones nevertheless isn’t ending his crusade; he told Bell that he wants accountability from the Commissioner.

“This is not about replacing Roger,” Jones said. “It’s a misnomer to say it’s payback for Ezekiel Elliott. It is about the accountability of the Commissioner to all of the ownership.”

Jones also seems to think he has struck a deal with the Compensation Committee aimed at preventing litigation, even if the Compensation Committee sees it differently.

“I told the [Compensation] Committee that I was standing down on legal action because they wanted to get input from all of the owners,” Jones said.

Jones continues to have concerns about the situation, even though he voted (along with all other owners) to unanimously authorize the Compensation Committee to execute the deal in May.

“There have been material changes since the resolution,” Jones said. “It should go back to the ownership.”

The nature of the changes to the resolution isn’t clear, given that (as PFT reported over the weekend) the resolution essentially gave the Compensation Committee a blank check. During a Tuesday radio appearance, Jones seemed to suggest that he wants to see the Compensation Committee disband, making Goodell accountable to all owners and not just to a handful of them.

And Jones continues to believe that he’s serving as a representative of the 26 owners not on the Compensation Committee, even if the rest of them don’t collectively believe that.

“My position is that the owners expect me to be the ombudsman for them, as to this committee,” Jones said. “No one has the NFL’s best interest in mind more than me, and I’m doing what I was asked to do by the owners. I don’t see how you can be disciplined for that.”

The discipline would come not from the message, but from his manner and method. And if Jones has a message that he believes can resonate with the rest of his business partners, Jones arguably would be wise to find another owner to spearhead this specific project, without doing so in a way that alienates many of his fellow owners.

Randy Moss, Ray Lewis among Hall of Fame semifinalists for 2018

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the 27 semifinalists for the Class of 2018. It includes six first-year eligible candidates in defensive back Ronde Barber, guard Steve Hutchinson, linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, wide receiver Randy Moss and defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

In addition, safety LeRoy Butler, defensive ends Leslie O’Neal and Simeon Rice and cornerback Everson Walls, although previously eligible for the Hall, are semifinalists for the first time. All other individuals on the 2018 list made the semifinal cut previously.

Hall of Fame bylaws call for 25 semifinalists plus all ties for the 25th spot.

The list includes 12 offensive players — but no quarterbacks — 13 defensive players and two coaches.

In January, selectors will reduce the list to 15 finalists, who will join seniors Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer and contributor Bobby Beathard on the final ballot. The annual selection meeting will take place February 3, the day before Super Bowl LII.

Here is the complete list of semifinalists for the Class of 2018:

Steve Atwater, safety, 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets

Ronde Barber, defensive back, 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tony Boselli, offensive tackle, 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve)

Isaac Bruce, wide receiver, 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers

LeRoy Butler, safety, 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers

Don Coryell, coach, 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers

Roger Craig, running back, 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings

Brian Dawkins, safety, 1996-2008 Philadelphia Eagles, 2009-2011 Denver Broncos

Alan Faneca, guard, 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals

Torry Holt, wide receiver, 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars

Steve Hutchinson, guard, 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans

Joe Jacoby, tackle, 1981-1993 Washington Redskins

Edgerrin James, running back, 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks

Jimmy Johnson, coach, 1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins

Ty Law, cornerback, 1995-2004 New England Patriots, 2005, 2008 New York Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009 Denver Broncos

Ray Lewis, linebacker, 1996-2012 Baltimore Ravens

John Lynch, free safety, 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos

Kevin Mawae, center/guard, 1994-97 Seattle Seahawks, 1998-2005 New York Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee Titans

Karl Mecklenburg, linebacker, 1983-1994 Denver Broncos

Randy Moss, wide receiver, 1998-2004, 2010 Minnesota Vikings, 2005-06 Oakland Raiders, 2007-2010 New England Patriots, 2010 Tennessee Titans, 2012 San Francisco 49ers

Leslie O’Neal, defensive lineman, 1986, 1988-1995 San Diego Chargers, 1996-1997 St. Louis Rams, 1998-1999 Kansas City Chiefs

Terrell Owens, wide receiver, 1996-2003 San Francisco 49ers, 2004-05 Philadelphia Eagles, 2006-08 Dallas Cowboys, 2009 Buffalo Bills, 2010 Cincinnati Bengals

Simeon Rice, defensive end, 1996-2000 Arizona Cardinals, 2001-06 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2007 Denver Broncos, 2007 Indianapolis Colts

Richard Seymour, defensive lineman, 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders

Brian Urlacher, linebacker, 2000-2012 Chicago Bears

Everson Walls, cornerback, 1981-89 Dallas Cowboys, 1990-92 New York Giants, 1992-93 Cleveland Browns

Hines Ward, wide receiver, 1998-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers

Seahawks cut Dwight Freeney

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Dwight Freeney, the longtime defensive end with a Hall of Fame resume, may have hit the end of the road.

Freeney was cut by the Seahawks today.

The 37-year-old Freeney had three sacks in four games this season, but at this point he’s just a situational pass rusher, and the Seahawks apparently want to devote roster space to players who contribute more.

Freeney will go on waivers, so any team that wants him can pick him up tomorrow. But it’s also possible that this is the end. Freeney was a seven-time Pro Bowler in his 11 years with the Colts. He has also played for the Chargers, Cardinals and Falcons.

Report: Officials erred in safety ruling, costing Miami two points

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First, it was Tennessee that got jobbed by officials. Then, it was Washington. Now, we find out the Dolphins did, too.

Needless to say, it was not a good weekend for the league’s officiating crews with three high-profile blown calls.

Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post reported Tuesday that the NFL has determined officials cost the Dolphins a safety when Jordan Phillips tackled Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone Sunday. Tony Corrente’s crew ruled Fitzpatrick’s forward progress carried him out of the end zone before Phillips tackled him in the end zone.

But Fitzpatrick ran into the back of his teammate and guard Demar Dotson pushed Fitzpatrick back into the end zone. Since Fitzpatrick was not “pushed or carried backward by an opponent,” as stated in Rule 3, Section 13, Article 1, his forward progress was not stopped.

“If you looked at the film, you tell me what you thought,” Phillips said.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase challenged the ruling, and it was upheld on replay. Replay cannot be used to determine whether the forward progress ruling was correct, according to a source, with replay focused solely on the ball in relation to the goal line at the time forward progress was ruled.

On Monday, Titans coach Mike Mularkey called for public accountability of officials, and Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins said a private apology doesn’t help.

Raiders fire Ken Norton Jr., promote John Pagano to defensive coordinator

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The Raiders have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, and now they’re making a coordinator change.

Head coach Jack Del Rio has fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and will replace him with John Pagano, NFL Network reports.

Norton, a former Pro Bowl linebacker, is in his third season as defensive coordinator of the Raiders. This year has not gone well: The Raiders are the only team in the NFL that doesn’t have an interception, and Oakland has allowed the highest passer rating in the NFL to opposing quarterbacks.

The Raiders face the Broncos on Sunday. Denver fired its offensive coordinator this week.

Falcons cut Jalen Collins

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The Falcons are saying goodbye to a talented but troubled cornerback.

Jalen Collins has been released, the Falcons announced. Collins hasn’t played at all this season and his 10-game suspension for a second violation of the league’s PED policy just came to an end.

Collins will now be available on waivers to any team that wants him, and it seems likely that some team will want him: He’s a good player, even if the Falcons decided he was more trouble than he was worth. He played in eight games for the Falcons last year, with six starts, and was a second-round pick in 2015.

The team that claims Collins will get him on Wednesday and can play him immediately, so he might help some team down the stretch. Just not the Falcons.

Report: Paxton Lynch will start for Broncos this week

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The Broncos will have a new offensive coordinator when they face the Raiders in Oakland.

They’ll reportedly have a new quarterback as well. According to multiple reports, the team plans to have Paxton Lynch replace Brock Osweiler and make his first start of the 2017 season. Broncos coach Vance Joseph, who said he’d discuss the quarterback choice with new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, is expected to make the announcement on Wednesday.

Osweiler started the last two games after taking over for Trevor Siemian, but the team’s offense hasn’t taken a step forward as a result of the change. Lynch has been practicing for several weeks after getting over a right shoulder injury and he served as the backup for the first time last Sunday, which makes his move to the first team no surprise given the desire to change signaled by Mike McCoy’s firing.

Lynch, a first-round pick last year, started twice during his rookie season and went 49-of-83 for 497 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

John Elway on Broncos being soft: I’d put myself at the front

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Broncos General Manager John Elway made headlines late last week when he said that the Broncos “got a little bit soft” after opening the season 3-1 and expressed his dismay about the team not being competitive in most of the games that make up their current losing streak.

Those comments elicited reactions from head coach Vance Joseph and some of the team’s players as well as those outside the organization who thought that Elway should bear some of the blame for the team’s 3-7 start to the season. During an appearance on Orange & Blue 760 Tuesday, Elway said that he includes himself in his negative assessment of the team’s trajectory this season.

“I was talking about everybody in the organization, and the track record we’ve had…when you’ve had success sometimes you get soft. I’d put myself at the front…I knew before I said it that some guys were not gonna like that,” Elway said.

Elway also discussed the decision to fire offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, saying that “something had to change” even though McCoy wasn’t responsible for all that’s gone wrong with the team. He didn’t say whether another change would come at quarterback with Paxton Lynch moving into the starting lineup, but did say he anticipates Lynch getting playing time at some point while noting it would be Joseph’s decision when that happens.

Tahir Whitehead on whether he intentionally stepped on Charles Leno: I’m not that kind of guy

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Tahir Whitehead‘s wife and coach spoke for him earlier Monday, denying the Lions linebacker intentionally stepped on Bears offensive tackle Charles Leno. Whitehead gave his explanation during the team’s open locker room, also insisting it was unintentional.

“Nah, I’m not that type of guy,” Whitehead said, via Chris Burke of The Athletic. “I let him know it wasn’t intentional.”

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune posted a video of Whitehead stepping on Leno’s leg during Sunday’s game. Whitehead’s wife tweeted at Biggs, and Lions coach Jim Caldwell also came to his player’s defense.

Whitehead explained he was trying to avoid the rest of the pile and “came down in a bad spot.” He said he immediately apologized to Leno.

“Everyone who knows me knows I play the game as clean as you can play the game of football, but I’m not out there trying to hurt anybody,” Whitehead said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I think we’re all out here trying to take care of our families and provide for our families.”

Browns are terrible against the spread, too

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The Browns are, for the second year in a row, the worst team in the NFL. But they’re also, for the second year in a row, the worst team in the NFL to bet on.

The Browns are an NFL-worst 2-8 against the spread this year. They were also an NFL-worst 3-12-1 against the spread last year. As bad as the Browns are, they’re consistently even worse than the oddsmakers think they’ll be. No matter how high the point spread, the Browns find a way to under-perform it.

That happened on Sunday against the Jaguars, who were favored by 7.5 points. Cleveland was down just 10-7 midway through the fourth quarter, and the Browns +7.5 was looking like a pretty good bet. But DeShone Kizer had three turnovers in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars got nine points off those three turnovers, and Jacksonville ended up covering the point spread with a 19-7 win.

Bad teams aren’t always bad against the spread. The 49ers have this year’s second-worst record at 1-9, but they’re 5-5 against the spread. The 0-16 Lions of 2008 went 7-9 against the spread. Bad teams aren’t always bad bets, but the Browns are just a special kind of bad.

Jerry Jones apparently wants to disband the Compensation Committee

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The NFL’s Compensation Committee has told Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (once again) to abandon his effort to delay or derail the contract extension for Commissioner Roger Goodell. Jones clearly isn’t planning to do that.

In his latest appearance on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Jones made it clear that he’s not backing down, and he remains confident that his efforts will be successful.

“I think that ultimately we will influence what I want to influence,” Jones said.

So what does he hope to influence? Apparently, he’s hoping to influence the process of holding the Commissioner accountable, by expanding the pool of owners who have power over his pay from six to 32.

“[T]he bottom line is he’s very powerful and you want to influence the Commissioner,” Jones said. “There’s a big debate as to one of the biggest things a Commissioner does is resolve disputes. He resolves them between everybody. So there’s an argument that he should be autonomous from being accountable. That’s legitimate. . . . Well, the Commissioner covers the whole league, the business aspect of it, the basically discipline aspect of it, the rules, the officials. And, so, no one — no one — would like it if you had three or four owners that were paying the officials. No one would like that because it should be all the owners that pay the officials. But yet you want them to be independent. Well, all owners should be holding the Commissioner accountable in my view. That’s the gist of this thing.”

In other words, Jones doesn’t want Goodell to feel beholden to only a few owners. Goodell should be, in Jones’ opinion, beholden to all of them.

That’s not how it will ever work, with or without a Compensation Committee. In any group of 32 that moves in unison from time to time, some will have more influence than others. And the Commissioner will know which owners have that influence, and the Commissioner will (if smart) focus on keeping the influential owners happy.

The presence of a Compensation Committee simply makes it easier to spot the owners who hold the knife that butters the Commissioner’s bread. Taking away the Compensation Committee, however, won’t take away the dynamic of some owners having the ability to rally support for anything and everything relating to the Commissioner.

If that’s what Jones is hoping to do, it’s the first time he has clearly articulated it that way. Whether it’s a tactic for persuading undecided owners to see things his way or the first phase of an effort to stake our territory where he eventually may be able to declare victory remains to be seen.

Regardless, the issue isn’t over. And it apparently won’t be over, even after the Commissioner’s extension has been finalized. In many respects, the execution of the Commissioner’s contract may be not the end of the dispute but only the beginning.

Mike Zimmer confirms it’s still Case Keenum’s show

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After quarterback Case Keenum directed the Vikings to another win against the Rams last Sunday, coach Mike Zimmer said it will be “hard to yank” Keenum out of the lineup after a couple of weeks filled with discussion about whether Teddy Bridgewater might get a look with the starting offense.

That wasn’t quite confirmation that Keenum would be starting against the Lions on Thanksgiving, but it didn’t leave much room or rationale for any other decision. Zimmer went ahead and confirmed it on Tuesday along with a fairly explicit reason why he likes what Keenum brings to the offense.

“The thing I like about Case is he’s got big balls,” Zimmer said, via Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Coincidentally or not, Keenum also has the Vikings on a six-game winning streak while playing the best football of his career. That should probably make weekly announcements that he’s the starter in Minneapolis a moot point, unless, of course, Zimmer’s going to continue to be so revelatory when he makes them.

Week 11 power rankings

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1. Eagles (9-1; last week No. 1): Step One for making the no-kicker strategy work? Get Carson Wentz to play quarterback.

2. Patriots (8-2; No. 2): La puerta esta abierta for a Super Bowl win.

3. Steelers (8-2; No. 3): They’re really good, but still not good enough to beat the Patriots in a playoff game.

4. Vikings (8-2; No. 5): Having Teddy Bridgewater looming over Case Keenum‘s shoulder actually makes Keenum play better.

5. Saints (8-2; No. 6): The Saints justified their name with a miracle on Sunday.

6. Rams (7-3; No. 4): The loss in Minnesota could be the first of several cold splashes of water in the face of a team still clinging to the NFC West lead.

7. Panthers (7-3; No. 9): Advance scout/tight end Greg Olsen is back, which could make the offense better than ever (especially against the Vikings)

8. Jaguars (7-3; No. 10): If the Steelers stumble and the Jaguars don’t, Jacksonville could end up with a postseason bye.

9. Falcons (6-4; No. 12): “Here we go again” ultimately went nowhere, for a change.

10. Lions (6-4; No. 11): Win Thursday vs. Minnesota, and the Lions will win the NFC North.

11. Chiefs (6-4; No. 7): If dropping from No 1 to Alex Smith‘s jersey number doesn’t spark a decision to let Patrick Mahomes show what he can do, eventually dropping to Mahomes’ jersey number possibly will.

12. Seahawks (6-4; No. 8): Maybe Russell Wilson‘s One-Man Band should add kicking to the repertoire.

13. Ravens (5-5; No. 18): The Ravens are only 2-5 when the other team scores at least one point.

14. Titans (6-4; No. 13): They’ve come a long way, but they’ve still got a long way to go.

15. Chargers (4-6; No. 19): In the 25th anniversary of the only NFL team that made it to the playoffs after starting 0-4, this one could end up doing the same thing.

16. Cowboys (5-5; No. 14): Getting to the playoffs may be even more difficult than keeping the Commissioner from getting his extension.

17. Washington (4-6; No. 15): If you can’t close out a 15-point lead with three minutes left over a playoff team, you don’t belong in the playoffs.

18. Bills (5-5; No. 16): From 5-2 to 5-5 with a pair of blowouts and two games against the Patriots still left to play, that 18-year playoff drought seems destined to continue.

19. Buccaneers (4-6; No. 24): When a trip to Green Bay is the easiest game left of the schedule down the stretch, it’s not an easy schedule down the stretch.

20. Raiders (4-6; No. 17): The Black Hole may be nearly empty next year, if this continues.

21. Bengals (4-6; No. 25): They may win just enough games to convince Mike Brown to stay the course.

22. Texans (4-6; No. 26): Tom Savage may do enough to get someone to pay him way too much money to eventually be benched for a rookie.

23. Jets (4-6; No. 21): It still won’t be easy to avoid 4-12.

24. Packers (5-5; No. 20): “Did you not just listen to that question I just answered?”

25. Dolphins (4-6; No. 22): How big is the current gap between the Dolphins and the Patriots? They’re about to find out, twice.

26. Cardinals (4-6; No. 23): Blaine Gabbert gets another start, while Colin Kaepernick still can’t get even a phone call.

27. Bears (3-7; No. 27): Kicking changes always seem to come a week to late.

28. Giants (2-8; No. 31): Amazing things can happen when a team actually tries to win.

29. Colts (3-7; No. 29): They’ve come a long way from the annual talk of whether to rest starters.

30. Broncos (3-7; No. 28): Great quarterbacks make offensive coordinators look good, and vice versa.

31. 49ers (1-9; No. 30): The stadium will be only slightly less empty than it was during the bye week.

32. Browns (0-10; No. 32): “Why the NFL Should Consider Contraction.” Exhibit A.

Tahir Whitehead’s wife, coach say he didn’t purposely step on Charles Leno

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Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead stepped on the leg of Bears offensive lineman Charles Leno on Sunday, and there have been some suggestions in Chicago that it was intentional — suggestions that are being denied both by Whitehead’s wife and his coach.

After Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune posted a video of the incident and questioned whether it was intentional, Whitehead’s wife tweeted at Biggs.

“I’m appalled. My husband would NEVER intentionally attempt to hurt another player. I won’t stand by and allow you or any other media personnel to question his integrity or defame him in any way,” Shannon Whitehead‏ wrote.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell also said he couldn’t see Whitehead doing something like that purposely.

“I was unaware of it until I guess it came up this morning, and I highly doubt that’s the case, that it was intentional,” Caldwell said today. “But I just saw it briefly.”

Former Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was suspended two games in 2011 for stomping on the arm of Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith, and was also given a suspension in 2014 for stepping on the leg of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, although that suspension was overturned on appeal. Former Lions center Dominic Raiola was also suspended for stepping on Bears defensive lineman Ego Ferguson in 2014.

Tyler Lockett’s 197 kickoff return yards were the most since last year’s rule change

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The NFL changed the touchback rule last year in an effort to cut down on kickoff returns, and it has resulted in far fewer long kickoff returns. More returners are keeping the ball in the end zone now that the touchback goes to the 25-yard line, and more kickers are kicking the ball high, which gives the coverage team more time to get downfield and makes it harder for a returner to break free.

So the game Seahawks kickoff returner Tyler Lockett had last night was particularly impressive.

Lockett returned five kickoffs for 197 yards last night, which is the most productive game a kickoff returner has had since the league changed the rule last year.

Lockett started the game with a 57-yard return of the Falcons’ first kickoff, then had a 37-yard return, a 39-yard return, another 39-yard return and finally a 25-yard return of the second-half kickoff. The Falcons had two more kickoffs after that, but both went deep into the end zone and Lockett didn’t return them.

Last night’s game also saw Atlanta’s Andre Roberts return a kickoff 50 yards and later fumble a return. There was a lot of excitement on kickoffs last night, something we haven’t seen much of in the NFL over the last two years.