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Mike Tannenbaum: For now, Mike Wallace is under contract

Mike Wallace AP

The Dolphins have been noncommittal about wide receiver Mike Wallace’s future with the team since he ended the 2014 season on the bench after a spat with the team’s coaching staff.

Executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum is remaining that way in the face of a report that the team is shopping Wallace to other teams in hopes of making a trade. Tannenbaum wouldn’t comment on that report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media during a Thursday appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio and he didn’t offer much more while being interviewed on WINZ in Miami.

“For now, Mike’s under contract. We’ll see where we go from there,” Tannenbaum said, via Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Wallace is set to make $9.9 million in 2015 in the third year of a deal that runs through 2017, which would make him tough to deal if he weren’t also coming off two years of underwhelming on-field performance punctuated by off-field discontent. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that the team has also discussed asking Wallace to take a pay cut or just releasing him, something that would leave a healthy chunk of dead money on their cap for 2015.

Whatever route it takes, Salguero adds that his best guess is that Wallace isn’t playing for Miami in 2015. Based on Tannenbaum’s phrasing, that doesn’t sound like a bad guess at all.

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NFL Media releases 2011 Wal-Mart incident report involving Dez Bryant

Dez AP

In November, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media rattled off a laundry list of occasions when police were called to the home of Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant.  The raw number of incidents — six — was troubling.  But the content of each specific instance showed that, in isolation, they were nothing.

As mentioned last Friday, February 20, when I inadvertently let the cat out of the bag regarding the previously worst-kept secret among reporters covering the NFL, Rapoport’s overhyped Dez Bryant rap sheet was the result of a chase for a much bigger prize:  The long-rumored video of an incident involving Dez Bryant doing something he shouldn’t have been doing.

Since Friday, much has been written and said about the rumored Dez Bryant video.  As it turns out, the NFL was in possession of relevant evidence on the subject several days before I blurted out the existence of the rumor on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.

In a letter dated February 17, the City of Lancaster, Texas police department produced to NFL Media via the Texas Public Information Act an incident/investigation report from July 2011 regarding a police response to the Lancaster Wal-Mart.

The report mentions that an unknown person called the police to explain that a black female was “being dragged from one vehicle to another vehicle” by a black male.  The vehicle the woman was dragged from was a Mercedes registered to Dez Bryant.

When a police officer responded, a Wal-Mart security guard explained that he arrived at the scene with the door to the Mercedes still open and a child’s toy on the ground, but that no one was present.  Then, two men pulled up in an Escalade registered to Dez Bryant.  The two men, Carl King and Christopher Mitchell, said they received a call from the alleged victim, asking them to pick up “her” Mercedes.

Then, a Bentley arrived in the parking lot, with the alleged victim and Dez Bryant inside.  The alleged victim claimed that she had an argument with a man named Alex Penson, that she was not assaulted or injured in any way, and that it was “just an argument” with Penson.  The alleged victim claimed she was dropped off at a friend’s house, and that she contacted Bryant to pick her up.

The responding officer determined after talking to all parties that there was no offense, and that everyone was free to go.

The report doesn’t mention the availability of Wal-Mart surveillance video, or the contents of it.  Instead, it appears that the responding officer accepted the version(s) supplied by King, Mitchell, Bryant, and the alleged victim, and closed the case.

Most if not all Wal-Mart stores have surveillance cameras blanketing the property.  Indeed, the longstanding rumor making the rounds among NFL reporters has been not just that an incident occurred at a Wal-Mart parking lot, but that there is video of it.

In digesting the report, keep this in mind:  The report makes no mention of the car to which the victim was allegedly dragged.  The video may show the other car.  The video may show the person doing the dragging, if dragging actually happened.  The video may show whatever preceded the dragging of the woman from “her” Mercedes to another car.  The video may show the other car driving away.

Eventually, the video is coming out.  In the interim, Bryant, Carl King, Christopher Mitchell, Alex Penson (whoever he is), and the alleged victim can expect to be pursued by members of the media for more details regarding what did and didn’t happen in that Wal-Mart parking lot.

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Peppers expected back with Packers, at $9.5 million

Oakland Raiders v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The Packers decided to remove an aging, expensive player from their defense when they cut A.J. Hawk yesterday. So might they remove an even older, even more expensive player and cut Julius Peppers?

Not according to coach Mike McCarthy, who said at the Scouting Combine that Peppers will be back.

“I definitely believe Julius Peppers is going to be here,” McCarthy said. “He had a great year. He made an impact both on the field, and in the locker room.”

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Peppers is due to make $8.5 million in base salary, $500,000 in a workout bonus, and $500,000 in per game roster bonuses. Add in the prorated portion of his signing bonus, and he’ll cost $12 million against Green Bay’s salary cap in 2015.

That’s a lot of money for a 35-year-old. But the Packers think Peppers is worth that money.

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Roger Goodell thinks Jimmy Haslam is doing a heck of a job

Goodell Canton Football AP

Since Jimmy Haslam took over the Cleveland Browns, they’ve gone 16-25, drafted a party-hard quarterback upon the advice of a homeless guy, and gotten themselves in trouble for illegal texting during games.

They’ve changed strategies, coaches, General Managers and team presidents, saw their best player repeatedly suspended for substance abuse, and unveiled a new logo which involved moving one block over on the Pantone chart.

Oh, and Haslam’s been investigated on federal fraud charges resulting in paying a $92 million settlement to the government.

But you know who thinks Haslam’s doing a swell job? NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Via Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal, Goodell praised the work Haslam’s doing to turn around (?) the Browns.

I’m a big fan of Jimmy Haslam,” Goodell said. “There are few quick fixes in this business and the league is so competitive. You really have to build a foundation. If it was easy, anybody could do it. There are 32 competitive teams.

“He’s learned a great deal. He’s making very smart decisions for the long term. I think this community ­— and I know this is Browns country — I think they’re fortunate to have Jimmy Haslam as an owner and we’re fortunate to have him.”

As endorsements go, that ranks right up there with “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

Goodell made the comments during an appearance at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce dinner, taking questions in a relaxed setting from Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf, and not reporters, who would have certainly leaned in on the assertion that there’s nothing to see here.

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Money the most overlooked factor in Adrian Peterson drama

Minnesota Vikings v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

Much has been said in recent days and weeks regarding whether running back Adrian Peterson will continue to play for the Vikings if/when he’s reinstated.  Fueling the speculation that Peterson may not be back are comments from Peterson suggesting hesitation to return, quotes from his father regarding a perceived lack of support from the organization when Peterson tried to return to football after resolving his legal case, and an altercation between Peterson’s agent and a Vikings executive (which may have been overblown).

Lost in the what-will-Adrian-do drama is the one factor that routinely is the biggest factor in matters of this nature:  Money.

The Vikings owe Peterson $12.75 million in 2015, with his 30th birthday looming.  What other team would pay him that much, especially after giving up whatever the Vikings will want in picks or players?  The more he’s worth financially, the more he’s worth in trade.

And so in the same way Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch may be leveraging uncertainty to shake plenty of money from owner Paul Allen, the guy whose exploits are verbally chronicled by a different Paul Allen could parlay these odd circumstances into an assurance that he’ll get every penny he’s scheduled to earn, this year and maybe next year, when he’s due to make $14.75 million.

It’s easy for Peterson to muse about getting a fresh start.  It’s harder to seize on that fresh start if the fresh start entails a lot less cash.

What about Peterson’s perception that the Vikings, through recently-promoted COO Kevin Warren, worked with the league to keep him from playing in November or December?  It’s easy to understand Peterson’s frustration; in lieu of fighting the charges pending against him in court, he accepted a plea deal in the hopes that it would get him back on the field last season.  It’s entirely possible that someone in the league office decided in September that Peterson wouldn’t suit up again in 2014.  If that’s the case, the Vikings weren’t participating in the making of decisions about Peterson; they were simply (and wisely) going along with the wishes of the league.

Peterson eventually may see it that way.  Making it easier for him to do so could be the raw dollars-and-cents differences between what the Vikings would pay him to return, and what another team would pay him to leave.

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Report: Broncos and Peyton Manning working on restructuring

Broncos Chargers Football AP

We’ve known the Broncos want Peyton Manning back. And we know Manning wants to play some more.

Now, they’re working on the numbers to make that happen.

According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, the Broncos and Manning are working on revising his contract, to move around some of the $19 million he’s scheduled to make this year.

With the two sides agreeing on the basics, the structure of the deal will be the key — the how and when Manning gets his money, while maximizing the Broncos’ cap room.

He also has to pass the team’s physical by next Thursday, but he said before the Super Bowl he didn’t think passing it would be an issue.

Creating cap space is key for the Broncos, especially considering the cost of using the franchise tag on wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (around $13 million).

There is some degree of deadline pressure, as Manning’s $19 million becomes guaranteed on March 9. So between now and then, the work to figure out how to do the accounting tricks will help shape the Broncos’ offseason plan.

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Steelers keep restructuring contracts

Torrey Smith, Mike Mitchell AP

Tackle Marcus Gilbert isn’t the only Steelers player reworking his contract this offseason.

Per multiple reports, safety Mike Mitchell has also agreed to restructure his deal as the Steelers try to create more cap room for the 2015 season. Mitchell was due a $2 million roster bonus that will be converted into a signing bonus along with a portion of his salary in order to spread his cap hit out over the life of the five-year deal he signed last season.

Center Maurkice Pouncey is also expected to finalize a restructuring of his deal. He’s due a $3.75 million roster bonus and was set to count $8.1 million against the cap. Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Steelers are expected to clear a little less than $10 million from their 2015 cap as a result of the three moves.

That money could go toward a new deal for impending free agent linebacker Jason Worilds and the Steelers may make more moves, including a possible extension for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, that would free up further money.

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Lions release Reggie Bush

Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The Lions are moving on from tailback Reggie Bush.

Detroit released Bush on Wednesday, Tim Twentyman of reported.

PFT’s Mike Florio has confirmed the Lions have parted ways with Bush, a 10th-year back from USC.

The 29-year-old Bush was slated to make $3.25 million in 2015 and $3.75 million in 2016, per NFLPA figures.

According to Twentyman, the Lions will earn salary-cap savings of more than $1.7 million by releasing Bush.

Bush was limited to 11 games in 2014, rushing for 297 yards on 76 carries and catching 40 passes for 253 yards. He turns 30 in March.

Bush could appeal to clubs looking for a pass-catching back. He could also have a market with teams seeking to add to their RB rotation.

With Bush departing, Joique Bell and Theo Riddick are the Lions’ top two backs, with George Winn in reserve.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Bush has rushed for 5,465 yards and 35 touchdowns and has caught 466 passes for 3,489 yards and 18 TDs. He played his first five seasons with New Orleans (2006-2010) before moving on to Miami (2011-2012). Bush signed with Detroit as a free agent in 2013.

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Packers cut A.J. Hawk

Super Bowl XLV Getty Images

A.J. Hawk has been let go by the Packers.

The team announced today that Hawk, who has spent his entire career in Green Bay, will not return. Hawk released a statement thanking the team for his time in Green Bay.

I spent nine great years in Green Bay. I had awesome teammates and coaches and a great medical staff and equipment staff. Many of them have become my closest friends. We won a ton of games, as well as a Super Bowl, and I loved everything about playing for one of the greatest franchises in all of sports,” Hawk said. “The fans in Green Bay are incredible. Between playing at Lambeau Field as well as seeing them on the road, they always supported us. I am looking forward to my next opportunity in the NFL, but I’ll always cherish my years as a Green Bay Packer.”

Packers General Manager Ted Thompson likewise thanked Hawk for his service to the team.

“A.J. is a consummate Packer and we are grateful for all that he has given and how he represented the organization over the past nine seasons,” Thompson said. “He was a durable and consistent contributor to our success, but more importantly, he is a great person and teammate. The Packers are grateful for all that he has done on the field and in the community. We wish A.J., his wife Laura, and the rest of their family all the best.”

Hawk, who is recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs in his ankle, now becomes a free agent.

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Schefter confirms rumor of Dez Bryant video

Dez Getty Images

In November, I caught wind of a potential situation involving Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant.  There were whispers of a video showing Bryant doing something he shouldn’t have been doing.  I was told multiple members of the NFL media had been chasing the video, but that no one had been able to find it.

I’ve done some minimal legwork since November, checking with the Cowboys to see if they were aware of the video (they said they weren’t) and talking to some folks in the media who acknowledged that:  (1) they’d heard about the video; and (2) they had no plans to address it absent hard proof that it exists.  I decided to let it simmer pending further information.

With the window for applying the franchise tag open and free agency approaching and the Cowboys and Bryant unable to work out a long-term deal and many wondering whether the team’s unwillingness to commit significant guaranteed money flows from off-field concerns, the simmer was starting to build toward a boil.  During an appearance last Friday with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, hosts Shan Shariff and RJ Choppy told me they’d heard from two different people that the Cowboys have a specific concern about Bryant.  And I blurted out something about the rumors regarding the video that may or may not exist.

I was careful to point out that it’s not known whether the video exists, explaining that reporters covering the NFL had been trying for months to find the video.  Appearing Monday on ESPN 1000 in Chicago, ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed that.

Asked about the rumors of a Dez Bryant video, Schefter said (measuring his words very carefully) that he has heard about the video and that he knows what’s on it.

I’ve been working on this since September,” Schefter said.  “There’s a lot involved.”

Schefter also said he doesn’t know whether the video will come out.

“It’s taken up a lot of my time this season,” Schefter added, explaining that what he’s been working on isn’t ready and may never be.

Since Friday, it’s definitely taken up plenty of my time.  I’ve spent lots of time on the phone trying to determine whether the video exists, and I’ve submitted a request under the Texas Public Information Act to the appropriate agency, with the goal of getting the video (if it exists) and any related documents (if they exist).

Primarily, the goal is to get a clear answer on this, one way or the other.  If there’s a video, the Cowboys and the NFL need to know about it, and to act accordingly based on its contents.  If there’s no video, then it’s better for Bryant if the situation comes to a head now.  Otherwise, the rumor will linger — and it eventually will impact the offers that one or more teams are willing to extend to him.

I talked about the situation at the outset of Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, and several other times throughout the program.  My understanding is that the incident (if there was one) happened in 2011, and that the video (if there is one) may contain footage of someone other than Dez Bryant.

For Bryant’s part, he tweeted on Wednesday afternoon, “I need to get me a real raw uncut tv show or something … I can’t continue to get betrayed like this.”  Bryant has since deleted the tweet.

On Friday, Bryant posted an even more cryptic message that contained no specific denial of the existence of a video, but that instead referred to people taking advantage of him and not being ashamed of any past incidents.

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Texans lineman David Quessenberry in remission after treatment for lymphoma

David Quessenberry AP

Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry missed the entire 2014 season after being diagnosed with lymphoma and he shared some good news about his battle against the disease on Wednesday.

Quessenberry was part of a team outing to Texas Children’s Hospital and gave an update about his condition.

“I finished radiation two weeks ago. I’m officially in remission. I love saying that,” Quessenberry said, via David Nuno of ABC13.

And we love hearing it.

Quessenberry, a sixth-round pick in 2013, said he’s now moved on to the “maintenance” phase of his treatment, but gave no indication of what that might mean for his return to the field. For now, that’s secondary to the great news about his health and we hope that there continues to be nothing but positive updates on that front for a young man with a lot of life ahead of him inside and outside the game.

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Ryan Mallett wants to remain in Houston

ryanmallett AP

Texans coach Bill O’Brien wants soon-to-be free agent quarterback Ryan Mallett to remain in Houston. The feeling is mutual.

Mallett told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle that he’s hoping he’ll come to terms with the Texans on a new deal that keeps him in Houston, where he started two games last season before suffering a torn pectoral muscle.

“I’d like to be back. Hopefully, we can get something worked out,” Mallett said. “It’s nice to be wanted. It’s better than not being wanted.”

Mallett said he has started throwing a football as part of his rehab from surgery.

“I’ve tossed it around a little. Its a day by day process,” Mallett said. “I’m getting close. There’s no magic potion. I’m trying to get better every day. We’ll see how it goes.”

Mallett hasn’t done enough yet to prove that he’s a capable NFL starter, which is why the Texans will likely have a quarterback competition in camp this year. But Mallett has done enough that if he does re-sign, he would probably be the favorite to win a competition among the quarterbacks currently on the roster (a list that includes Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Tom Savage and Thaddeus Lewis). It’s not surprising that Mallett wants to stay in Houston, because Houston is the team that gives Mallett his best chance to be a starter.

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Ravens cut Jacoby Jones

Jacoby Jones AP

Jacoby Jones is out in Baltimore.

The Ravens announced today that they have released Jones, a veteran receiver and return man. Jones was scheduled to cost $3.3 million against the Ravens’ cap this year, so the move is not a big surprise.

In 2012 Jones was a first-team All-Pro return man in the regular season, and he made a huge impact in that year’s playoffs, with a 70-yard touchdown catch that forced overtime in the Ravens’ comeback win over the Broncos, and a 108-yard kickoff return touchdown in the Super Bowl. That was the longest play in Super Bowl history.

Jones remains one of the NFL’s best kickoff returners, but he caught just nine passes last year, and the Ravens have decided he’s not worth that kind of money. Now he’ll become a free agent, and an attractive one for some team that needs help on special teams.

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Willie Creear breaks vertical jump record at regional combine

williecreear AP

You’ve probably never heard of Willie Creear, a cornerback from Eastern Michigan who wasn’t considered a good enough prospect to earn an invitation to the Scouting Combine. But Creear just displayed leaping ability that has never been seen before at the Scouting Combine.

Creear turned in a vertical jump of 47 inches at the regional combine in Denver this week. That breaks the all-time record of 45 inches at the regular Scouting Combine, set in 2009 by Ohio State cornerback Donald Washington and equaled this year by Georgia receiver Chris Conley. Creear admitted that he surprised even himself with how high he jumped.

“Usually I jump about 40, 41. I was blessed to have a good trainer working on good technique,” Creear said.

Creear said he’s hoping the regional combine will put him on the radar of some NFL teams who hadn’t previously noticed him.

“I think it’s a good alternative for other athletes, even coming from other schools or just hidden behind other guys on your team who get that invite to Indianapolis. I think it’s a good experience for everybody else,” he said.

Creear is still a long shot to get drafted, but there’s no question that all 32 NFL personnel departments at least know who he is now. That’s what the regional combines are for.

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Jimbo Fisher: Jameis Winston is as smart as anyone I’ve been around

jimbojameis AP

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is not surprised by reports that quarterback Jameis Winston impressed NFL teams with the intelligence he demonstrated in interviews at the Combine.

Fisher, who has been a quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator or head coach for 27 years, said he has never coached a player with the level of football intelligence that Winston possesses.

“Jameis, in football intellect, intelligence level, is as smart as anybody I’ve ever been around,” Fisher said on NFL Network. “You can do so many different things with him and he grasps it. He just doesn’t memorize plays, he understands the concepts of how to attack the coverage, how a play works, where his one-on-one matchups are. He just has a tremendous football intellect that way.”

Fisher said that Winston’s study habits are particularly impressive.

“Every night, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, we get off the practice field, he eats his dinner at 6:45, and then he’s up here in the offices until 9:30, 10, 10:30 at night,” Fisher said. “He would sit and watch every practice tape and then prepare for red zone, third down, whatever it might be. A lot of guys are very talented but he likes to understand the game.”

There are still major questions about whether Winston will stay out of off-field trouble in the NFL because he wasn’t able to stay out of off-field trouble at Florida State. But there are no questions about whether he has the tools to be an NFL quarterback. He has those tools, both physically and mentally.

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