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AEG says Inglewood stadium presents terrorism threat

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In the Gumball Rally that has emerged as Inglewood and Carson race to build stadiums in the L.A. area, the company that has been trying to build a downtown venue for the past several years has thrown a fistful of nails into the path of the project proposed for the now-defunct Hollywood Park.

Via Sam Farmer and Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times, a study commissioned by AEG concludes that the Inglewood site presents an unacceptable risk of terrorism.

The study, performed by former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, warns that terrorists may try to hijack or shoot down a plan landing at LAX, with the goal of crashing it into the stadium.  Ridge calls the possibility a “a terrorist event ‘twofer.’”

The NFL is aware of the report, but it doesn’t seem to be ready to endorse it.

“We feel that the best approach is to look at these things with an independent eye,” NFL executive V.P. Eric Grubman told the Times.  “You should assume the NFL has its own experts hired and at work to assess any potential NFL site, in any city, regarding these matters.  And it is that advice that we will rely on.”

AEG has a clear bias; it wants to build the stadium in which one or two NFL teams will play.  But the concerns shouldn’t be dismissed.  The Inglewood site is in the LAX landing path.  If/when a Super Bowl is played there, any and every plane that passed by becomes the potential weapon for mayhem and destruction that would rival — and possibly surpass — the events of September 11, 2001.

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Browns sign Josh McCown

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Josh McCown is a Cleveland Brown.

The veteran quarterback and the Browns have agreed on a contract today, the team and McCown’s agent Mike McCartney both confirmed on Twitter.

McCown was released this month after a rough first year in Tampa Bay. He previously had a very promising showing during the 2013 season while filling in for Jay Cutler in Chicago. Cleveland has to hope it’s getting the Chicago version of McCown, and not the Tampa Bay version of McCown.

Cleveland also has to hope that McCown can work well with Johnny Manziel, teaching Manziel what it takes to become an NFL quarterback but also starting for the Browns this season if Manziel isn’t ready.

The arrival of McCown in Cleveland will almost certainly mean that free agent Brian Hoyer, Cleveland’s starter for most of last season, is going to sign elsewhere.

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Adrian Peterson issues statement

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On Thursday, Judge David Doty overturned the arbitration decision upholding the suspension of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.  While Peterson is not yet reinstated (and who knows when he will be?), he has been returned to the Commissioner-Exempt list, which allows him to speak to the Vikings.

On Friday, he spoke publicly, via press release.  Here’s the full content of it:

“I was pleased to learn about Judge Doty’s decision.  It is a positive step in protecting players’ rights and preserving due process for all players.  It also brings me one step closer to getting back on the football field and playing the sport I love.  As I prepare for my return to football, I am still focused on my family and continue to work to become a better father every day.  I want to express my gratitude for all of the support I have received from the fans, NFLPA, Jeffrey Kessler, and my agents Ben Dogra, Tracy Lartigue, and Mark Heligman from Relativity Sports.”

Peterson says nothing about whether he does or doesn’t want to return to the Vikings.  Last week, he confirmed that he has some misgivings about returning to Minnesota, which holds his rights for the next three seasons.

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Cardinals release Darnell Dockett

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The Cardinals were able to reach agreement with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on a new contract that lowered his cap hit for the 2015 season significantly and they hoped to do the same with defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, but those efforts have been unsuccessful.

Arizona announced Friday that they have released Dockett, who missed the entire 2014 season because of a torn ACL. Dockett had $6.8 million coming his way from the Cardinals before the move and he was set to count $9.8 million against the cap.

Dockett joined the Cardinals as a third-round pick out of Florida State in 2004 and has been a fixture in the starting lineup since his arrival. He made one All-Pro team and was selected to three Pro Bowls while helping to spearhead the Cardinals Defense during his decade in the desert.

Dockett turns 34 in May, but the inability to work out a new deal suggests Dockett likes his chances of landing a better contract than the Cards were offering once on the open market. If he can’t, Darren Urban of the team’s website reports that the Cardinals remain interested in a Dockett return at a lower price tag.

Should Dockett not land a job at all for some reason, he can occupy his time advising the youth of America about the dangers of hanging out in strip clubs.

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NFL considering changes to combine drills

Trae Waynes AP

The NFL scouting combine just wrapped up its frenzy of 40-yard dashes, shuttle runs and other drills, but it may be the last time that the event goes according to that familiar schedule.

While speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston on Friday, NFL director of player development Matt Birk and Saints coach Sean Payton said the league would look at the traditional drills this offseason to see if they can be made more useful to teams. For example, Birk said that the only reason anyone ever gives for running the 40 is that it is the way it’s always been done.

“That’s a project we’ll be working on this offseason,” Birk said, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. “Once we look at the data that was gathered in-game this year, it may be important to know how fast a wide receiver or defensive back can go 60 yards. Maybe for an offensive lineman it’s only 20 yards. We can actually see that in-game: how far are these guys running? What are the real or improved measures of importance and value as it relates to evaluating players and whether or not they should be drafted in the first round or the sixth round?”

Payton also talked about position-specific changes to the drills in order to get the best gauge on how players will transition to the NFL as well as using data about body types to improve scouting for particular needs. Whatever changes the league undertakes as a whole when it comes to the scouting combine, it’s a good bet that teams will also be using their own proprietary methods — as mentioned in Friday’s one-liners, Jaguars vice president Tony Khan recently bought a sports analytics company — to get an edge on the competition.

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Michael Sam invited to the first veteran combine

Michael Sam AP

Not only will Michael Sam be needing his dancing shoes next month, but he’ll also need his overnight bag.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Sam has been invited to the league’s inaugural veteran combine on March 22.

That’s within six days of the start of filming for Dancing With The Stars, in which he’s participating this season.

Sam said this week his first priority was football, and the show was flexible enough to accommodate him if he need to attend the event in Arizona or other workouts for NFL teams.

It’s a big step for him in his goal to get back to the NFL, as he takes steps on the dance floor at the same time.

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Mike Wallace not willing to take a pay cut

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The Dolphins have paid receiver Mike Wallace $27 million since signing him nearly two years ago.  Due to make $9.85 million in 2015, Wallace reportedly isn’t willing to take a penny less.

Via Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Wallace won’t restructure the contract.

It’s unclear whether that means he won’t take less money or whether it means he won’t take a large chunk of his salary now as a signing bonus, allowing the cap dollars to be spread over future years of the deal.  His cap number currently is scheduled to be north of $12 million.

For the Dolphins, there’s no specific deadline for action before Week One of the regular season.  Of the $9.85 million salary, $3 million is fully guaranteed.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, there’s no roster bonus or other trigger in March that would entitle Wallace to cash in hand or to more guaranteed money.

If Wallace won’t reduce his salary, and if the Dolphins aren’t willing to spend $9.85 million in 2015 in the hopes of justifying $27 million spent in 2013 and 2014, a trade makes sense — if the Dolphins can find a suitor.  At $9.85 million in base salary with plenty of options on the free-agent market and a trend toward rookie receivers making an impact right away, that’s unlikely.

If a trade isn’t possible, the Dolphins would be wise to cut Wallace sooner rather than later.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the $3 million guarantee has offset language, meaning that the Dolphins will avoid the obligation if he gets at least $3 million from someone else.  The sooner he’s on the market, the more likely he’ll exceed that number.

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Dolphins to release Brian Hartline

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At a time when it’s still unclear what the Dolphins will do with receiver Mike Wallace, it’s very clear what they’ll do with receiver Brian Hartline.

They’ll cut him.

According to agent Drew Rosenhaus, the Dolphins have said Hartline will be released on Friday.

Hartline was due to earn a base salary of $5.9 million this year, the third of a five-year, $30 million contract.  He received $7 million to sign; $4.2 million must still be accounted for on the salary cap.

In his first season under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, Hartline had the lowest yardage output of his career with 474, despite starting all 16 regular-season games in 2014.  He surpassed 1,000 yards in 2013 and 2012.

The move gives the 28-year-old a 10-day head start on the open market.  It’ll be interesting to see how much teams are willing to pay for veteran receivers, given that rookies seem to be making a bigger impact right out of the gates.

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Simeon Rice: There’s no Hall of Fame without me in it

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There were 113 nominees as Modern-Era candidates for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year and none of them were named Simeon Rice.

Rice recorded 122 sacks in 12 NFL seasons, which wasn’t enough for him to be deemed worthy of consideration alongside defensive linemen like Jevon Kearse, Steve McMichael and Ted Washington. Whether you feel Rice should be in the Hall of Fame or not, it’s hard to believe he’s not worth the same thought that voters gave those three men. Rice feels his career was worth a lot more.

“You can’t have a Hall of Fame without me being in it. It’s just not legitimate,” Rice said in an interview with SBNation.com. “There is no Hall of Fame without me in it. It’s just one of those things.”

It’s not the first time that Rice’s Hall of Fame credentials have come up for discussion. His Buccaneers teammate Derrick Brooks called him one of the best, if not the best, pass rushers of his generation. Warren Sapp also banged the drum for Rice a couple of years ago, mostly by comparing Rice’s work against left tackles favorably against that of the since-enshrined Michael Strahan against right tackles.

Rice, who said he “set the standard” for defensive ends in his era, didn’t resist taking a swipe at Strahan.

“I didn’t have nobody falling down to help me get sacks,” Rice said in obvious reference to Brett Favre settling to the turf like an old man easing into a bath as Strahan set the single-season sack record. “I didn’t have that. I had to earn everything I got.”

A head-to-head comparison would go beyond simply pass rushing numbers, but the fact that Strahan’s in the Hall helps make the case that Rice should at least have his name in the mix when voters consider the best players not currently in the Hall.

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New Rams QB coach Chris Weinke talks up Sam Bradford

Sam Bradford AP

Despite reports that the Rams might trade or release quarterback Sam Bradford, everyone in St. Louis insists that the team is fully committed to its franchise quarterback.

That includes new Rams quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke, who says he accepted the job in large part because he’s enthusiastic about coaching Bradford.

Love him. Love him,” Weinke told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch when asked about Bradford. “Historically, I look back at every guy that I’ve evaluated coming out of college. A few years ago when Andrew Luck came out they said who would you compare him to? And I said the closest I would see is Sam Bradford. And I say that without knowing Sam. I’d never met Sam until this process. Looking at his physical skill set. And then obviously talking to people and understanding his mental capacity and his football IQ, and all those different things. Sam by far has had the best pro day out of any guy I’ve ever evaluated from a physical standpoint. And he was coming off an injury at that point in time. So when you look at a guy who’s a pure passer of the football from a physical standpoint, he’s as good as anybody I’ve ever evaluated.”

Bradford’s $13 million salary in 2015 is awfully expensive, but the Rams’ coaches and executives are talking like they’re willing to pay that money. Bradford is their guy.

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Reports: Browns still in the mix for Josh McCown

Josh McCown AP

If it’s not the Josh McCown Derby, it’s at least a match race.

The Browns, like the Bills, are vying to sign McCown, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday night.

Furthermore, John Wawrow of the Associated Press reported McCown has engaged in “contract discussions” with Buffalo and Cleveland.

Both reports, it should be noted, said the Bills and Browns were “at least” the teams interested in McCown at the moment. What that means in terms of McCown’s market is unclear.

Now, we wait to see with whom McCown signs and what he garners. The signing team will likely be out of the mix for a veteran quarterback, which could winnow the options for soon-to-be free agents like Brian Hoyer (Cleveland) and Mark Sanchez (Philadelphia).

For McCown, the motivation to get a deal done now is clear. Released by the Buccaneers earlier this month, he’s the only veteran passer currently getting any interest before free agency begins on Tuesday, March 10.

The Bills and Browns have reason to get a contract done, too. Their shopping at the position would be finished, and the cost would be on the books. They could turn their attention to other options when the market opens next month.

And the needs of both clubs go beyond quarterback.

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Steven Jackson has no plans to retire

Bradley McDougald, Steven Jackson AP

Yes, he’s played 11 years in the NFL. Sure, he’s 31. Yep, he was cut by the Falcons on Thursday. But none of that means running back Steven Jackson is calling it quits.

“A lot has been written lately about my future,” Jackson wrote on his official website. “There are questions about my age, and what I have left in the tank. Of that, I will simply say this. For the first nine years of my career, I was used like a battering ram, punishing opposing defense over four quarters of a game. Maybe you stopped me the first five times I got the ball, but by the 15th or 20th time I got it, late in a game — let’s just say you were really feeling me at that point.

“Make no mistake: I can still punish a defense. I still have a warrior’s heart. There are 1,000-yard seasons left in these legs. I know what I am still capable of, and I have every intention of proving it.”

Jackson enters the market at a time when tailbacks like Reggie Bush, Chris Johnson, and DeAngelo Williams are available, and Jackson is older and has more wear and tear than each of them. At a time when teams are opting for multiple tailbacks who are on the young and cheap side, Jackson could have a hard time getting an acceptable offer. He could have an even harder time getting the reps necessary to churn out more 1,000-yard seasons.

But we wish him the best as he embarks on finding a new home. He’s been a great leader by example on a lot of bad teams. He deserves to get a chance to play for a good team.

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Nelson Peterson mentions three teams as potential destinations for Adrian

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Officially, the Vikings can now speak to running back Adrian Peterson. Unofficially, it sounds like multiple teams have been talking to someone.

On Thursday, Adrian’s father, Nelson Peterson, told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the elder Peterson has heard “rumors” of three potential destinations for Adrian.

“I’ve heard rumors, Arizona,” Nelson Peterson told Tomasson. “I’ve also heard the rumors of Indianapolis and the Colts, going there with a quarterback the caliber of [Andrew] Luck. I’ve also heard the Cowboys, coming back home with the Cowboys, behind that offensive line that they have.”

Nelson Peterson didn’t say who he heard the rumors from. All three teams make sense, and they mesh with rumors that have been making the rounds in league circles for the past few months.

Regardless of whether Adrian ends up in Arizona now, Nelson has strong feelings about where the Cardinals currently would be if they’d taken Adrian eight years ago.

“Arizona had the opportunity to draft him and they didn’t,” Nelson Peterson said. “They had an opportunity to take him in 2007 with the No. 4 pick and they went and picked Levi Brown. If they would have taken Adrian Peterson, then [quarterback] Kurt Warner would probably still be playing and they probably would have numerous Super Bowls.

“Can you imagine [Adrian] with Kurt Warner and with Larry Fitzgerald in his prime? Oh, man, Arizona would probably have a couple of Super Bowls by now.”

With Adrian turning 30 next month, the window toward being a key piece of a Super Bowl contender is closing. Before he leaves Minnesota in search of a team that may be on the doorstep, he needs to ask himself whether the Vikings may be laying the foundation to get there, sooner than later.

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Falcons release Steven Jackson

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The man who currently sits at 16 on the all-time rushing list will have to continue his climb through the record book with a new team.

The Falcons have announced that running back Steven Jackson has been released.

After nine seasons with the Rams, Jackson joined the Falcons two years ago. Jackson gained 1,250 yards on 347 carries, scoring 12 touchdowns.

For his career, Jackson has 11,388 yards, more than Hall of Famers John Riggins and O.J. Simpson.

The Falcons won only 10 of 32 games with Jackson on the team, a slump that came after five straight winning seasons.

For Jackson, the sub-.500 seasons continue a career trend. He has never played on a team that finished the year with a winning record. As a rookie in 2004, the Rams qualified for a wild-card berth with an 8-8 record.

The move creates $3.75 million in cap space. Jackson will still count for $1.1 million based on previously-paid bonus money. He immediately becomes a free agent, able to sign with any other team.

For Jackson’s sake, here’s hoping he lands with a team that finally finishes the year with a winning record.

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Vikings can now talk to Adrian Peterson

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The statement they issued didn’t expressly address the question of whether the Vikings can now speak directly to running back Adrian Peterson, who has been restored from suspended status to the Commissioner-Exempt list. Per a team source, they can.

That’s a huge development for the Vikings, who hadn’t been able to make their case directly to Peterson as to why he should return for a ninth season with the team. In a visit last week to PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, coach Mike Zimmer made the case that he’d make directly to Peterson.

Now, Zimmer can make that case directly to Peterson, and the Vikings can try to secure from him a renewed commitment to remain in Minnesota.

Ultimately, the decision could come down to money. For now, the Vikings have the ability to mend fences and rebuild bridges before allowing him to once again break the bank with a base salary of $12.75 million.

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