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Report: Patriots trade Ryan Mallett to Houston

Brandon Graham, Ryan Mallett AP

One week before their regular season opener, the Texans have acquired a quarterback to whom they’ve long been linked.

The Patriots have traded backup Ryan Mallett to Houston, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Sunday.

According to Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com, the Texans will give up a sixth-round pick for Mallett.

In Houston, Mallett will work again with Bill O’Brien, the former Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach who’s now the Texans’ head coach.

For New England, the move makes rookie Jimmy Garoppolo the only backup to starter Tom Brady.

The focus now turns to whether Mallett can overtake Ryan Fitzpatrick for the Texans’ starting job. The trade could also potentially lead to another roster move for Houston, which now has four quarterbacks. Were a quarterback to be moved, third-year pro Case Keenum would seem to be the prime candidate.

A 2011 third-round pick from Arkansas, the 26-year-old Mallett has appeared in four regular season games, all as a reserve. He is in the final year of his contract. Whether the Texans will extend his deal or let him play out 2014 under his current contract is another storyline to watch.

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Cornerback-needy Jets claim McFadden

As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s “we can’t do any worse so why not give it a shot?”  Or something.

Per multiple reports, which PFT has confirmed, former Browns cornerback Leon McFadden has been claimed on waivers by the Jets.

The 68th overall pick in 2013, the Browns selected McFadden one spot before the Cardinals picked Tyrann Mathieu.  The choice was made by former G.M. Michael Lombardi, who now serves as a consultant to the Jets’ most hated rivals, the Patriots.

McFadden appeared in all 16 games last year with two starts.  He now bolsters a depth chart depleted by injury and the bizarre circumstances surrounding veteran Dimitri Patterson, who was cut on Saturday.

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Alex Boone expected to report to 49ers with reworked contract

Alex Boone, Joe Staley AP

49ers guard Alex Boone held himself out of the team’s offseason activities, training camp and the preseason in hopes of landing a new contract with the team.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, that holdout is about to come to an end. Schefter reports that Boone is expected to report to the 49ers in the next 24 hours.

Boone will reportedly be returning to work with a reworked two-year deal rather than a new contract. PFT has learned via a league source that Boone’s total pay over the 2014 and 2015 seasons will go from a combined $3.7 million to $6 million. Boone also cannot be franchised when the deal is complete and all fines and forfeited money from his holdout have been waived.

The timing of the decision to find some middle ground with Boone strongly implies that the 49ers, who reportedly resisted trade overtures for the disgruntled Boone, didn’t feel all that secure about going into the regular season without their incumbent right guard. Joe Looney filled the position during the summer, but Boone should be back in the starting lineup before too much longer after the 49ers offense scuffled its way through the preseason.

 

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No claims for Michael Sam, who can now sign to practice squad

Michael Sam AP

The claiming deadline for players waived yesterday was noon today.

So if Michael Sam had been picked up by another team after being cut by the Rams, he’d have heard by now.

Via Tom Pelissero of USA Today, unless someone put in a last-minute claim for the seventh-round pick, he’s a free agent at the moment, and able to sign with a practice squad.

Likely, he’d stay with the Rams, who gave him a chance this summer to make the team, despite having one of the league’s best and deepest defensive lines.

But even if he signs with another team’s practice squad, he’d be making history, as the first openly gay player on an NFL roster.

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Report: Ray McDonald arrested for domestic violence

McDonald Getty Images

When it comes to the NFL’s new policy on domestic violence, many of the details won’t be known until a player or two (or more) end up caught in the gears of its application.

The first player to be caught in the gears of the application of the new domestic violence policy apparently will be 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald.

According to Damian Trujillo of NBC Bay Area, McDonald has been arrested for domestic violence.

Per Trujillo, the alleged victim is pregnant, which by the terms of the new policy could result in an eventual suspension beyond the first-offense baseline of six games.

Before the process reaches that point, the case against McDonald will have to develop.  ESPN reported in the aftermath of the announcement of the new policy that an “offense” will arise only after final adjudication of the criminal case, which suggests that a civil settlement with the victim that results in no prosecution could help the player escape punishment.

Asked whether the “final adjudication” report from ESPN is accurate, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT, “We deal with the facts of each case at the appropriate time and make decisions on those case when the process is completed.”

The facts of the first case apparently will involve Ray McDonald, a key member of the San Francisco defense who became a full-time starter upon the arrival of coach Jim Harbaugh.

The fact that Harbaugh is McDonald’s coach could create a separate area of trouble for the player, based on this quote from former 49ers safety Donte Whitner:  “He said that we can do anything in the world and we can come and talk to him and he’ll forgive us except put our hands on women.  If you put your hand on a woman then you’re done in his book.”

So maybe, in the end, Harbaugh will be even harder on McDonald than the league office will be.

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Jerry Jones: I don’t plan to put Jimmy Johnson in Ring of Honor

jerryjimmy Getty Images

Jimmy Johnson, the coach who led the Cowboys to two championships before leaving the team after a falling out with owner Jerry Jones, has said that he has an assurance from Jones that he will eventually be inducted in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. Jones apparently doesn’t recall giving Johnson any such assurance.

In an interview on Outside the Lines, Jones became visibly agitated when he was asked about Johnson, and Jones said he has no intention of giving Johnson the Cowboys’ highest honor.

“I don’t have plans for Jimmy to be in the Ring of Honor. The criteria that I’m interested in have more to the guys that were on the field making the plays,” Jones said.

If the Ring of Honor were solely for Cowboys who had made plays on the field, Jones’s comments would make sense. But former Cowboys coach Tom Landry and former Cowboys G.M. Tex Schramm are both in the Ring of Honor. So why no space for Johnson, who twice hoisted the Lombardi Trophy along with Jones, and whose personnel decisions played a large part in a third Cowboys title after Johnson left the team?

Jones doesn’t have any real answer to that, other than that the decision belongs to Jones, and Jones doesn’t think Johnson is worthy of the Ring of Honor.

“To have that kind of recognition for a coach, I know that’s there, on the other hand, I get to make that decision,” Jones said.

The bottom line is that Jones doesn’t want Johnson getting too much recognition, because Jones wants the credit for those three Cowboys championships in the 1990s. Giving Johnson a permanent place in Jones’s football palace would be a little too much like giving Johnson the credit for building those championship teams. And Jones would rather have that credit for himself.

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Champ Bailey “fully healthy” and “definitely” wants to play this season

Champ Bailey AP

The Saints parted ways with cornerback Champ Bailey as they dropped to 53 players this weekend, leading some to wonder if this is the end of the line for a likely Hall of Famer.

Bailey has spent 15 years in the NFL, but was bothered by a foot injury this summer after missing 11 games for the Broncos because of a similar problem last season. That run of health problems and his failure to make the Saints paint a bleak picture for the 12-time Pro Bowler’s future, but Bailey’s agent Jack Reale says his client isn’t ready to hang up the cleats.

“Definitely, and he is fully healthy now,” Reale said, via NFL Media. “He had a plantar problem, which is resolved, but he just missed too much time for the coach’s evaluation to be complete and unfortunately in the last two games they didn’t throw at him, so he couldn’t show his stuff. He is fine.”

Teams are always looking for cornerbacks — the Jets come to mind as a team with a real need at the position right now — and Bailey’s resume is the sort of thing that makes teams pay attention when he’s on the open market. That won’t help him if he can’t stay healthy enough to be productive, though, and it certainly feels like the curtain is coming down on Bailey’s decorated NFL career.

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Giants not expecting Odell Beckham for Week 1

Giants Camp Football AP

The Giants will likely open their season with their first-round draft pick where he has been throughout the preseason: on the sideline.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin indicated on Saturday that rookie receiver Odell Beckham, who is nursing a hamstring injury, isn’t expected to play in the Monday night opener against the Lions. Coughlin said one of the reasons wide receiver Preston Parker made the 53-man roster is that he’ll be playing some of the roles the Giants had hoped Beckham could play.

“Preston also has the punt return/kick return ability,” Coughlin said, via Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. “Right now that’s very critical for us, because Odell Beckham was going to be the punt returner.”

The Giants still have high hopes for Beckham as a big-play threat in their offense, some day. But that day will not be next Monday night in Detroit.

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Michael Sam expects “a long and successful career”

michaelsam AP

Shortly after he was released by the Rams, Michael Sam said he sees today as just a minor setback.

Sam wrote on Twitter that he still believes he’s going to make it in the NFL, even if he didn’t make the Rams’ 53-man roster after today’s final cuts.

“I want to thank the entire Rams organization and the city of St. Louis for giving me this tremendous opportunity and allowing me to show I can play at this level. I look forward to continuing to build on the progress I made here toward a long and successful career,” Sam wrote.

Sam played well enough in the preseason that he has a chance to get picked up on waivers by some other NFL team. If so, he’ll be on a 53-man roster heading into Week One of the NFL season.

If Sam isn’t claimed on waivers, he may be signed to the Rams’ practice squad, or he could end up on another team’s practice squad. So Sam will likely get another opportunity to try to make it in the NFL. Even if he fell short on his first opportunity.

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All 32 teams are down to 53 players

maurkice AP

The toughest day of the year for NFL players on the roster bubble has come and gone, and all 32 teams are now down to the 53-player roster limit.

About 700 players were released, placed on injured reserve or otherwise removed from active rosters today, and we have all their names in our 53-man roster tracker. Those who remain are on 53-man rosters.

But those rosters are not final, and this weekend’s business in the NFL isn’t done: Dozens of waiver claims and free agent signings will happen on Sunday, and that means dozens more players will have to be cut to make room for those players who are changing teams.

And then teams will begin assembling their practice squads, with about 300 of the players who were cut today finding out that they’ll have jobs in the NFL after all, albeit jobs that don’t pay quite as well as active-roster spots.

Bottom line: It’s been a busy day. And it’s just the start of a busy NFL weekend. And just the appetizer for next week’s much more fun NFL weekend.

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Packers keep three quarterbacks

Scott Tolzien, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn AP

Reports on Saturday indicated the Packers were only going to keep two quarterbacks on their initial 53-man roster, but those reports have been proven incorrect.

The Packers unveiled their roster on Saturday afternoon and it includes Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien. Both Flynn and Tolzien saw time with the Packers offense as they cycled through options after Rodgers was injured. Having two guys on hand will lead to less scrambling if things unfold that way again this year, although one imagines Green Bay would rather just have Rodgers in there all 16 games.

Green Bay got down to 53 players by cutting safety Chris Banjo, wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, linebacker Jake Doughty, tackle John Fullington, center Garth Gerhart, wide receiver Alex Gillett, defensive tackle Carlos Gray, running back Michael Hill, linebacker Adrian Hubbard, guard Jordan McCray, safety Tanner Miller, tight end Justin Perillo, running back LaDarius Perkins, defensive end Luther Robinson, cornerback Jumal Rolle, tackle Jeremy Vujnovich, wide receiver Myles White and cornerback Ryan White.

They also placed tackle Aaron Adams, linebacker Nate Palmer, tight end Jake Stoneburner and defensive tackle Khyri Thornton, a 2014 third-round pick, on injured reserve.

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Stephen Hill’s agent disappointed in Ryan and Idzik, thinks Browns will be interested

Stephen Hill, Curtis Marsh AP

The Jets cut wide receiver Stephen Hill, a 2012 second-round pick, on Saturday and Hill’s agent Alan Herman was less than thrilled with the team’s decision.

Herman argued that the team’s quarterbacks and offensive schemes were to blame for his client’s struggles in his first two seasons. Hill had 45 catches and four touchdowns in 23 games for the Jets.

“He didn’t have a chance that first year with that whole Tim Tebow-Mark Sanchez fiasco,” Herman said, via USA Today. “His second year, Geno Smith was learning how to play quarterback. So they never threw the ball deep because they wanted to simplify things for Geno.”

No one will argue that the Jets have had good quarterback situations the last two years, but Hill’s hardly blameless. He had too many drops and too hard a time staying healthy to be a reliable part of any offense.

Hill’s big and fast, though, and that should land him other chances. Herman says he “would think” the Browns will be interested because of Josh Gordon’s suspension and head coach Mike Pettine’s previous relationship with Hill when both men were with the Jets. Herman also told Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer that he thinks Panthers wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl would have a positive impact on his client and much has been made this summer about the thin receiver depth chart in Carolina.

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Chiefs release PK Ryan Succop in move to 53 players

Ryan Succop AP

The Chiefs have parted ways with their incumbent kicker.

Ryan Succop, the Chiefs’ kicker the last five seasons, was released by the club on Saturday, the team announced.

The 27-year-old Succop hit 22-of-28 field goals and forced 47 touchbacks in 91 kickoffs in 2013. The final pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, Succop had spent his entire career with Kansas City.

It’s quite possible Succop could land elsewhere this season. New Orleans, Philadelphia and Tennessee are among the clubs unsettled at kicker. His release could have been driven by finances. Succop was slated to make $1.95 million in salary in 2014 and $7.6 million in salary over the next three seasons, according to NFLPA records.

With Succop departing, the Chiefs are left with rookie Cairo Santos at kicker. Santos is scheduled to make $420,000 this year, per players union data. Santos connected on all three field goal attempts in exhibition play.

In addition to cutting Succop, the Chiefs announced the release of safety Jonathon Amaya, safety Malcolm Bronson, fullback Jordan Campbell, defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton, wide receiver Mark Harrison, offensive guard Ricky Henry, linebacker Alonzo Highsmith, linebacker Nico Johnson, defensive tackle Kyle Love, cornerback Justin Rogers, defensive lineman Kona Schwenke, cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, linebacker Devan Walker, offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb, tailback Charcandrick West and wide receiver Fred Williams. Johnson was the Chiefs’ fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft (No. 99 overall).

The Chiefs also placed quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receiver Kyle Williams on injured reserve, with defensive end Mike Catapano landing on the non-football injury list.

The team also said it had placed wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive lineman Donald Stephenson on the reserve/suspended list. Bowe will serve a one-game NFL suspension to begin 2014, while Stephenson is out four games. The Chiefs get roster exemptions for both players.

The Chiefs are at the 53-player limit.

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Dolphins put Mike Pouncey on active 53-man roster

Mike+Pouncey+g0hwub0Gbh9m Getty Images

When Dolphins center Mike Pouncey needed offseason hip surgery, there was talk that he’d have to miss most of the season. But the Dolphins think he’ll be back soon.

The Dolphins released their roster cuts today, and the big news was that Pouncey wasn’t involved in any transactions. He is on the 53-man roster, rather than the physically unable to perform list. That means the Dolphins expect him to play at some point in the first six weeks of the season.

Players waived by the Dolphins on Saturday included DT Isaako Aaitui, G David Arkin, C Sam Brenner, WR Kevin Cone, G Evan Finkenburg, CB Kevin Fogg, S Jordan Kovacs, QB Seth Lobato, TE Kyle Miller, DE Tevin Mims, DE D’Aundre Reed, K Jake Rogers, DT Garrison Smith, LB Andrew Wilson and TE Evan Wilson. Rookie free agent Kamal Johnson was placed on injured reserve and veteran offensive lineman Tony Hills had his contract terminated.

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Rams cut Michael Sam

New Orleans Saints v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft, did not make the Rams’ 53-man roster.

The Rams cut Sam in one of their final moves today, the team has announced.

Sam arrived in St. Louis with great fanfare — but with long odds to make the regular-season roster because the Rams were already deep at Sam’s position, defensive end. But Sam played well enough in the preseason that there was increasingly talk in NFL circles that he had a good chance of making it.

Unfortunately for Sam, he was simply caught up in a numbers game, and the Rams decided that he wasn’t one of the top 53 players on their roster. He could still return to St. Louis on the practice squad, a decision that would come in the next couple of days.

But first Sam will go through waivers, which means every NFL team will have a chance to put in a claim for him. Considering how well Sam played in the preseason, there’s a good chance that some other team will take him, and that he’ll be on a 53-man roster when the season begins. But that 53-man roster will not be in St. Louis.

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