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Raiders, Chargers close land deal in Carson

Mark Davis AP

The Raiders and Chargers have retained former 49ers executive Carmen Policy to lead their effort to get a stadium built in Carson, California that would give both teams a home and footprint in the Los Angeles Area, but Raiders owner Mark Davis said Tuesday that he hasn’t given up on the possibility of getting a new stadium in Oakland.

Davis said, via Bob Glauber of Newsday, that if the team can get something done in Oakland that they will stay in Oakland. That effort may please those who have gathered outside the league meetings in San Francisco to voice their opposition to a Raiders move, but their ardor won’t do much to close a funding gap in the hundreds of millions beyond the $500 million he would commit to the project.

In Carson, meanwhile, the Chargers and Raiders have closed on a land deal involving 157 acres that can be used to construct the proposed stadium for both teams. The deed for the land will belong to an entity controlled by the city with another 11 acres under the control of the team to use for parking. Chargers attorney Mark Fabiani said, via the Associated Press, that the land would transfer back to the city at no cost if no stadium winds up being built.

With that deal closed, Policy on board and Davis ruling out both a sale of the team and a move to St. Louis on Tuesday, the options for the Raiders to get a new stadium in the immediate future are clear and Carson looks like the better bet for the team right now. NFL owners are expected to discuss all of the stadium proposals, including Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s own L.A. bid, on Wednesday.

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NFLPA says Tom Brady appeal continues, despite Kraft’s decision

APTOPIX AFC Championship Football AP

Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s announcement that he will not fight NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s punishment for Deflategate does not affect the separate punishment of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Moment’s after Kraft’s announcement, NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah confirmed that nothing has changed as far as Brady’s punishment goes: Brady is still appealing, and the NFLPA is still supporting that appeal.

It’s still possible that Brady could follow Kraft’s lead and drop his appeal as well, but that seems unlikely: Brady is a competitor, and he’s not going to stand by and let the league take away a quarter of his season.

In fact, if anything, Kraft’s decision not to appeal might strengthen Brady’s chances of winning an appeal: Perhaps NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be favorably inclined toward the Patriots now that Kraft has agreed to forego an appeal of the team’s punishment. There may have even been a little back-room dealing in which Goodell hinted to Kraft that Brady’s appeal will go better if the Patriots take their medicine.

We know that the Patriots won’t have a first-round draft pick in 2016. But it may be a while before we know if the Patriots will have their quarterback on the field for the first four games of 2015.

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Kraft: I disagree with Goodell, but I accept it and we won’t appeal

New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced today that his team will not fight NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to strip the team of a first-round draft pick, a fourth-round draft pick and $1 million as punishment for Deflategate.

In a long statement at the league meeting, Kraft explained that he thinks it’s in the best interests of the league if the Patriots take their medicine, even if they disagree with Goodell’s decision. Here is Kraft’s statement:

“It’s been an emotionally charged couple of weeks as all of you know, and I’ve been considering what my options are. And throughout this whole process there have been two polarizing audiences. At one end of the spectrum we’ve had Patriots fans throughout the country who have been so supportive and really inspirational to us and believing in us. But, also mindful, at the other end of the spectrum, there are fans who feel just the opposite. And what I’ve learned is the ongoing rhetoric continues to galvanize both camps. And I don’t see that changing, and they will never agree.

“But the one thing that we all can agree upon is the entire process has taken way too long. And I don’t think anyone can believe that after four months of the AFC Championship Game, we are still talking about air pressure and the PSI in footballs. I think I made it clear when the report came out that I didn’t think it was fair. There was no hard evidence, and everything was circumstantial. And at the same time, when the discipline came out, I felt it was way over the top. It was unreasonable and unprecedented, in my opinion.

“So I have two options: I can try to end it, or extend it. And I have given a lot of thought to both options. The first thing that came to mind is 21 years ago, I had the privilege of going to a meeting similar to what we have here, in Orlando, and being welcomed in an NFL owners’ meeting. So here’s a fan and a former season ticket holder, living a dream and being welcomed in that room. And I got goosebumps that day. And I vowed at that time that I would do everything I could do to make the New England Patriots an elite team, and hopefully respected throughout the country and at the same time, do what I could do to help the NFL become the most popular sport in America.

“You know, what I’ve learned over the last two decades is that the heart and soul and strength of the NFL is a partnership of 32 teams. And what’s become very clear over those very two decades is at no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the full 32. So I have a way of looking at problems that are very strong in my mind, and before I make a final decision, I measure nine times and I cut once. And I think maybe if I had made the decision last week it would be different than it is today.

“But believing in the strength of the partnership, and the 32 teams — we have concentrated the power of adjudication of problems in the office of the commissioner. And although I might disagree with what is decided, I do have respect for the commissioner and believe that he’s doing what he perceives to be in the best interests of the full 32. So in that spirit, I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric. And we won’t appeal.

“Now, I know that a lot of Patriot fans are going to be disappointed in that decision. But I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans and the NFL. And I hope you all can respect that.

“You know, I would normally take questions, but my desire is truly not to continue the rhetoric, and so I’m going to leave this discussion exactly here. Thank you very much.”

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady still plans to appeal his four-game suspension. But Kraft is done fighting.

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Report: Goodell, Kraft have spoken, hugged recently

New England Patriots Vs. Green Bay Packers At Lambeau Field Getty Images

Patriots owner Robert Kraft may have been angry at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as a result of the penalties given to his team and quarterback Tom Brady as a result of DeflateGate, but his anger wasn’t getting in the way of a chance to get a hug.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Monday that the league and the Patriots are working behind the scenes to resolve the Patriots’ unhappiness about those penalties and added Tuesday that Goodell and Kraft have already done some in front of the curtain work. Per Schefter, the two mean already have “met, spoke and even hugged” already and that they were spotted “on a couch, talking by themselves for quite a long time” at a birthday party for CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus over the weekend.

It seems that there’s nothing like proximity to a man who pumps hundreds of millions into your bank accounts to reinflate the amorous feelings that may have flagged in recent days, weeks and months.

With the league also leaking that they were the ones who asked the Patriots to suspend Jim McNally and John Jastremski in a fairly obvious effort to sideline questions about why the Patriots suspended two men they believe did nothing wrong beyond engaging in text message conversations that 12-year-olds found juvenile, the chances of reaching an amicable resolution that avoids lawsuits and further mudslinging seem to be fairly good.

All the hugging and courting on a couch won’t do anything to stop questions about why Goodell commissioned a lengthy, expensive report from a man whose integrity was praised by the league at every instance and then backtracked on the discipline generated from that report’s findings because the subject of the report was unhappy with it, but perhaps Goodell can just keep doling out hugs until everyone forgets the last four months ever happened.

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Extra points may change today

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, left, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, meet at a joint workout during NFL football training camp, Philadelphia, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) AP

By the end of the day today, the NFL could have a new extra point rule.

The owners are meeting today and will hear proposals for changing the current extra point format. Although it’s possible that they won’t vote until tomorrow — and also possible that they’ll end up deciding not to change extra points at all — there’s a good chance that before they adjourn this evening, the NFL will have a new extra point rule for the 2015 season.

These are the three proposals on the table:

Competition Committee proposal: Allow a team scoring a touchdown to either kick for one point with the ball snapped at the 15-yard line or go for two points with the ball snapped at the 2-yard line. The defense would have the opportunity to score two points by returning a blocked kick, fumble or interception to the opposite end zone.

Eagles proposal: Same as the Competition Committee proposal except the snap for two-point conversions would be moved to the 1-yard line.

Patriots proposal: Same as the Competition Committee proposal except the defense would not be able to score.

PFT Planet, tell us which rule you prefer.

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Jim Kelly on #DeflateGate: Tom Brady “doesn’t need to do that”

Green Bay Packers v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

Not everyone in the AFC East is out to get the Patriots.

In fact, another pretty good quarterback in the division thinks the four-game suspension Tom Brady was hit with is excessive, even if he found the behavior that triggered it unnecessary.

I thought it would be better just two games, but they gave him four,” Bills legend Jim Kelly said, via Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “The initial reaction after hearing so many people talk about it, it would be different if the balls were checked and he already had it how he liked it and then it went to the officials and they OK’d or they just said, ‘No way.’

“But it was the after fact; that after it left Tom and then left the officials, it was supposed to go right to the field — [they] went back and took more air out of it. Tom Brady is a good friend, but he doesn’t need to do that. He’s one of the greatest to ever play the game. So it was sad to see. When I saw the $1 million fine, the first and [fourth] round picks taken away, I was a little shocked.”

That kind of shock value is clearly what the league was banking on, in its latest installment of coming down hard on the crime of the week.

But Kelly’s disappointment with Brady is also worth noting here, as an investigation that was heavy handed and perhaps flawed still showed he was “more probable than not” to have done something that didn’t need to be done.

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Patriots suspended Jastremski, McNally at request of NFL

Beavis

On the surface, the news from Adam Schefter of ESPN that the Patriots suspended John Jastremski and Jim McNally because the NFL requested the discipline makes plenty of sense. At a deeper level, the timing is curious — and it possibly becomes the first tangible evidence that winter is ending.

With the Patriots previously tight lipped on the topic of why they suspended their in-house equivalents of Beavis and Butthead, it’s fair to surmise that the news of the real reason for their suspension without pay was leaked to Schefter by the league. If so, it’s the first time throughout this saga that the league has leaked something that was favorable to the Patriots.

It started with someone from the league leaking to Chris Mortensen of ESPN the blatantly false news that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were a full two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum at halftime of the AFC title game. That set the narrative of presumed tampering, and the league never corrected the misinformation until the Ted Wells report disclosed for the first time 13 days ago actual numbers that revealed: (1) dramatically conflicting pressure gauges; and (2) a set of readings that falls fully in line with the operation of the Ideal Gas Law. And it culminated Sunday night with someone from the league leaking to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe strong disagreement with the Patriots’ position that Wells didn’t have the right to re-interview witnesses based on evidence that previously had been lurking undetected in Wells’ files.

Now, the news being leaked is positive for the Patriots, since it explains why they suspended without pay two guys whom the Patriots believe did nothing wrong. It suggests that, as Schefter reported last night, the league and the team are trying to work out a compromise — and that this latest leak represents an olive branch.

Still, it’ll take more than olive branches for the league to find a solution to this mess that allows Ted Wells and Troy Vincent to save face, and that gives the Commissioner cover for what will appear to be cowering to Patriots owner Robert Kraft. For now, only the Patriots and their fans are complaining loudly about the proposed penalties; if/when the league backs off, plenty of other people will start complaining, too.

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Greg Hardy vows to reward Jerry Jones for taking a chance on him

Greg Hardy AP

The Cowboys have taken some criticism for signing defensive end Greg Hardy, who is suspended for the first 10 games of the season for a domestic violence incident. Hardy says he is motivated to play well in part because he wants to reward Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for being willing to take that criticism.

“What I am going to do is make sure Jerry’s happy,” Hardy told WFAA. “[Because] he took a chance on me.”

Hardy said there is no doubt in his mind that the Cowboys have signed one of the best pass rushers in football.

“My success is already ensured,” Hardy said. “I’m a Pro Bowl defensive end. Just got to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Hardy also vows to be a good person off the field.

“Be me again. Be a considerate, nice guy. Help people. Keep a lot of love in my heart. Stay out of trouble . . . keep everybody else happy. Keep my fans happy. Keep you guys [in the media] happy. And keep smiles on faces,” Hardy said.

There will be a smile on Jerry Jones’s face if Hardy is the same kind of player when he returns from his suspension as he was before the domestic violence incident. There will be egg on Jones’s face if Hardy gets into trouble again.

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Chargers, Raiders retain Carmen Policy to lead stadium effort

Policy Getty Images

A former 49ers executive could have a key role in the return of the Raiders to Los Angeles.

Carmen Policy, who served as V.P. and general counsel of the 49ers before becoming the team’s president in 1991, will spearhead the push to persuade the NFL to embrace the proposed stadium in Carson, California that the Raiders and Chargers would share.

In a Monday afternoon phone interview with PFT, Policy described his role in the project as “unfinished business,” pointing to his efforts to keep the Rams in Los Angeles more than 20 years ago. Along with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, Policy nearly brokered a deal to build a new stadium for the Rams at Hollywood Park. Negotiations collapsed at the last minute.

So why is Policy, who last worked in the league as president of the Browns in 2004, getting back into the game now?

“I kind of miss the NFL,” Policy said. “I miss show business.”

Policy also believes that bringing the NFL back to L.A. would become an important part of his football legacy. But it would be a limited part of his legacy; Policy will not have an ongoing role with the operation of the stadium or either of the teams. He’s strictly on board to help bring the project to fruition.

“I hope I’m invited to the ribbon cutting,” Policy deadpanned. “And maybe they’ll even give me tickets.”

There may not be many tickets to give away, if the stadium fulfills Policy’s vision of providing what he calls the best game-day experience in any sport.  “It will be a football project,” Policy said. “Not a real-estate development project. That should carry a lot of weight with the other owners.”

Ultimately, what the other owners think of the project will go a long way toward determining whether Carson becomes the new home for the NFL in Los Angeles. Policy said he won’t criticize other projects, including the venue in Inglewood proposed by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Instead, Policy will focus on the benefits of Carson, from highway access to the facility to the proximity of Orange County.

While Policy believes the financial aspects of the project could work with only one team playing there, the goal remains to move two teams to Carson — in large part because the NFL wants two teams to share a Los Angeles stadium. And Policy firmly believes that it makes the most sense to take a pair of California teams from two of the worst facilities in the league, with fan bases ranging from Mexico to the tip of Northern California.

Policy also explained that the Raiders have no reluctance to share a stadium with the Chargers because the Raiders won’t be a tenant, which they would have been if they’d shared a stadium with the 49ers.

“Technology will make these teams feel at home on game day,” Policy said. “The experience with the Jets and Giants verifies that. They’ll be equal owners, equal occupants.”

Plenty of hurdles remain before “might” becomes “will.” With Policy on board, the project has taken another important step toward winning the race to return to L.A.

And the fact that the news of Policy’s involvement comes on the same day details emerged regarding the proposed financing plan for a stadium that would keep the Chargers in San Diego probably tells San Diego all it needs to know about the team’s reaction to the proposal.

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Report: NFL, Patriots working to resolve #DeflateGate

secret___whisper1

With the NFL’s owners gathered in San Francisco for quarterly meetings, some important business potentially will be transacted over a large bowl of Rice-A-Roni.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the league and the Patriots are engaged in “back-channel conversations” to determine whether the league and the team can resolve their differences without an appeal or potential litigation.

These discussions presumably would apply only to the $1 million fine and the two draft picks stripped from the Patriots — a first-rounder in 2016 and a fourth-round selection in 2017. But those back-channel negotiations could result in a wink-nod understanding regarding a potential reduction in quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension by the league, along with a commitment by the Patriots to persuade Brady to accept the outcome without filing a lawsuit of his own.

The broader question for the NFL becomes whether fans and/or the media would react negatively to a deal, especially since so much of what the league currently does seems to be driven by P.R. considerations. The challenge would be selling the reduced penalties without admitting that independent investigator/special prosecutor Ted Wells and executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent got it wrong.

Ultimately, the manner in which the fans and/or the media will receive the explanation for reduced penalties will hinge on whether the reasons are plausible or whether they come off as spin control.

Which means that the spin control had better be plausible.

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Ryan Tannehill gets $21.5 million fully guaranteed at signing

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

More details are emerging in connection with the next contract signed by Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. And the most important detail relates to the amount that is fully guaranteed at signing.

Per a league source, Tannehill receives $21.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.

Another $3.5 million becomes fully guaranteed March 2016.  In March 2017, another $14.475 million converts to being fully guaranteed. The remaining $5.525 million in payments guaranteed for injury only becomes fully guaranteed in March 2018.

As a practical matter, then, Tannehill will get $25 million fully guaranteed over the next two seasons — unless the Dolphins cut him before next March and let him walk away with $21.5 million over one year.

In all, it’s a four-year extension worth $77 million, which equates to $19.25 million per year in new money average. Which is a very good deal for a guy who has not yet emerged as a clear-cut, short-list franchise quarterback.

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Dolphins extend Tannehill

Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

Two weeks ago, the Dolphins picked up the fifth year option on quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s contract. They’re now extending it even farther than that.

A league source confirms that the Dolphins have agreed to terms with Tannehill on an extension. The news was first reported, as best we can tell, by Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

Per Salguero, it’s a four-year extension that puts him under contract through 2020.

The numbers have not yet emerged. Tannehill, the eighth overall pick in 2012, was due to make roughly $2 million in 2015 and $16.1 million in 2016.  Thus, anything beyond $18 million will be the “new” money in the deal.

The top of the quarterback market currently pays out more than $20 million per year. It’s likely that the Dolphins gave Tannehill good money based on his performances over three years and his perceived potential going forward, but that Tannehill didn’t get the kind of high-end cash that would have required franchise-level play over the next two years.

He’s the first quarterback from the class of 2012 to get a second contract. Other notable signal-callers from that draft include Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.

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Justin Smith is retiring

San Francisco 49ers v New York Giants Getty Images

The 49ers gave defensive end Justin Smith all the time he wanted to make up his mind about returning for another season, but the extra time didn’t cause Smith to commit to another year in the trenches.

The team announced on Monday afternoon that Smith has decided to retire after 14 NFL seasons. He spent the last seven of those years with the 49ers after joining the team as a free agent following seven years in Cincinnati and General Manager Trent Baalke said in a statement that Smith left a big impression on the organization.

“Justin is the consummate professional whose impact on this organization can never be measured by statistics alone,” Baalke said. “His durability, competitiveness, work ethic, strength and rare stamina helped set him apart over his 14-year career. Cowboy will go down as one of the best to ever wear a 49ers uniform and his candidness, work ethic and pure passion for the game will be missed. We wish the very best for him and his family!”

Smith’s career took off when he joined the 49ers as all five of his Pro Bowl appearances and his one first-team All-Pro selection came after joining the team in 2008. He ends his career having missed just three games over 14 years and recording 87 sacks, 17 forced fumbles and three interceptions.

Smith joins linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland as big parts of the 2014 49ers defense to retire this offseason and the team will move on with Darnell Dockett, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Tank Carradine and first-round pick Arik Armstead at defensive end.

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Report: Warren Sapp cuts plea deal to resolve prostitution case

sapp Getty Images

Warren Sapp used to make his money by collecting sacks.

Now, he’s saving some money after allegedly throwing a couple of working girls out of the sack.

According to TMZ, the former Buccaneers/Hall of Fame defensive tackle has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, resolving his arrest on prostitution and assault charges in Phoenix during Super Bowl week.

The report says that Sapp will plead guilty to one count of solicitation and one count of assault. To resolve the charges, he has to complete a pair of counseling programs, the “Prostitution Solicitation Diversion Program” as well as an anger management course.

He has apparently already completed the prostitution course (which would lead to the charge being dropped), and is working on completing the other counseling program now.

Sapp has also been ordered to pay restitution to each of the two prostitutes, $150 to one and $1,171.24 to the other.

Considering the fight broke out after Sapp thought he had agreed to terms for $300 for each of them — before everybody got naked — and then an argument erupted, that’s a stiff fine.

But considering he has already lost his job over the sordid affair, cutting this deal might allow him to clear his name soon.

Such that anyone’s ever going to forget this one.

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Odell Beckham: NFL players should get paid more

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Getty Images

Giants receiver Odell Beckham thinks the $10.4 million he’s guaranteed over the first four years of his rookie contract is not enough.

“I think that we should make more money, personally,” Beckham told The Huffington Post when asked what he’d change about the NFL.

Beckham says NFL players should get paid more than baseball or basketball players because football is a more dangerous game.

“I understand that basketball plays 80-something games, baseball plays this many games, soccer plays that many games, but this is a sport where there’s more injuries. There’s more collisions. It’s not even a full-contact sport, I would call it a full-collision sport. You have people running who can run 20 miles per hour and they’re running downhill to hit you, and you’re running 18 miles per hour. That’s a car wreck. It’s just the career is shorter. There’s injuries that you have after you leave the game, brain injuries, whatever it is, nerve injuries.”

The truth, however, is that the danger inherent to a profession has little to do with the pay within that profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, logging is America’s most dangerous profession. If people were paid according to the risks associated with their jobs, lumberjacks would make more than NFL players. But that’s not how it works.

In reality, NFL players make less money than baseball and basketball players primarily because baseball and basketball have smaller rosters. The players’ percentage of the league’s revenue is similar in all three sports, but in the NFL that money is divided among a much larger pool of players — more than twice as many players as in Major League Baseball and more than four times as many players as in the National Basketball Association.

As a result, it’s unlikely that NFL players will ever make as much, on average, as MLB or NBA players. No matter how much Beckham thinks they should.

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