National Football League
NFL News Wire
  • Saturday, February 28, 2015
    Competition Committee discusses London games
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NFL's Competition Committee met Saturday in Naples, Fla., and discussed how to improve games played in London.

    • According to Troy Vincent, vice president of football operations for the league, specifics were not identified.

      There has been talk about getting rid of the automatic bye week following games played in London. The goal, according to profootballtalk.com, is to assess "one of the potential consequences of moving a team to London and requiring visiting teams to play without a bye on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean."

      Currently, three games are scheduled for London next season.

      The Miami Dolphins will play host to the New York Jets in Week 4 on Oct. 4. The Jacksonville Jaguars will take on the Buffalo Bills in Week 7 on Oct. 25. Finally, the Kansas City Chiefs will face the Detroit Lions in Week 8 on Nov. 1

  • Saturday, February 28, 2015
    Cowboys will tag Bryant, let Murray test free agency
    By The Sports Xchange

    Dallas Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said the team will use the franchise tag on wide receiver Dez Bryant at the deadline Monday and also will let running back DeMarco Murray hit free agency.

    • Speaking to FOX Sports on Saturday, Jones said "we're eyeing a franchise tag" for Bryant and Murray will "see what's out on the market" when he becomes a free agent on March 10.

      The Cowboys have been trying to sign Bryant to a long-term contract. Jones said he and his father, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, met with Bryant's agent, Tom Condon, on Tuesday.

      But, he said it "would be a stretch to think that we would have something done by Monday and beat the franchise-tag deadline. Looks like we're eyeing a franchise tag on Dez, but certainly won't stop us from working hard to get a long-term deal. ... We've got a long period of time there where we can continue to work on doing something long term for Dez."

      The franchise tag would cost the Cowboys around $12.3 million for 2015.

      "We just don't want to lose his rights," Jones said. "We think Dez is a unique player and certainly a big part of what we've done ... and certainly going forward."

      Bryant, 26, caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and a career-high 16 touchdowns in 2014. It was his third straight season with at least 1,200 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

      As for Murray, who led the NFL with 1,845 rushing yards in 2014, Jones said negotiations have been slow and Murray "is probably going to get some peace and see what's out in the market, and then we'll talk and see. I do believe deep down he'd love to stay in Dallas."

  • Saturday, February 28, 2015
    NFL notebook: Rice wants to finish career with dignity
    By The Sports Xchange

    As disgraced running back Ray Rice seeks another shot to play in the NFL, he is attempting to put his domestic violence incident behind him and convince everyone else he is not a "monster."

    • "I realize that's a battle I'm going to have to face for the rest of my life," Rice told the Baltimore Sun in a story published Saturday. "Time does heal everything, but I don't think people are going to forget this. I want people to not forget about the incident, but I want people to see there's a human being on the other side. This is not a monster, a guy who's a repeat offender. I'm not the guy they stereotype me to be. I'm (also) not excusing what I did."

      Rice was charged last year with felony aggravated assault after he knocked out his then-fiancee and now-wife, Janay, with a punch in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. In a standard plea deal for such cases, Rice avoided jail time through a pretrial intervention program.

      Rice said the hate he felt from the public sent him into a nearly suicidal state of mind.

      "You almost want to punish yourself," he said. "I know I'm never going to win the battle of public opinion. Honestly, I almost felt like at one point that it wasn't worth living. I see why people commit suicide. It hurt that bad. I was low, real low. It hurt that bad because you worked your whole life to do all the right things and then you're the world's most hated person."

      Rice, who was released by the Baltimore Ravens in the wake of the assault, said he is intent on returning to the league to finish on his terms.

      "I don't want my career to be defined by this one moment," he said. "I've been smart with money and the NFL is a great-paying game, but I really want to get back out there for my pride and to be able to leave the game with dignity. I don't ever want to feel exiled out, because I wasn't that guy. ... I know I'm not ready to call it quits yet."

      It remains to be seen whether another team gives Rice a chance -- not only because he could be a PR nightmare but because there is a question of whether he can still be an effective running back at age 28.

      After four straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Ravens, Rice rushed for just 660 yards in 2013, averaging 3.1 per carry. He said he played most of that season with a torn quadriceps.

      ---Quarterback Josh McCown will make the same amount in his first year in Cleveland as he was slated to make in Tampa Bay before the Buccaneers released him.

      His three-year contract with the Browns is worth $14 million, with $5.25 million due in 2015, according to reports. Overall, the deal guarantees $6.25 million and could be worth up to $20 million.

      McCown chose the Cleveland Browns over the Buffalo Bills on Friday.

      McCown, a 12-year veteran released by the Bucs on Feb. 11, had talked with the Chicago Bears and New York Jets as well, and he reportedly was close to a deal with the Bills on Thursday before the Browns began recruiting him heavily.

      McCown, 35, appears to be the Browns' starter for now, with 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel in rehab and 2014 starter Brian Hoyer a pending free agent.

      ---Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne underwent surgery to repair a torn triceps and reportedly doesn't know yet if his NFL career has reached its conclusion.

      According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the 36-year-old Wayne is beginning rehab for the injury and still mulling whether to play in 2015.

      Wayne played in 15 regular-season games for the Colts in 2014, totaling 779 yards on 64 catches with two touchdowns.

      Wayne becomes a free agent on March 10 and apparently there has been no talk of any contract discussions with the Colts.

  • Saturday, February 28, 2015
    'Not a monster,' Rice wants to finish career with dignity
    By The Sports Xchange

    As disgraced running back Ray Rice seeks another shot to play in the NFL, he is attempting to put his domestic violence incident behind him and convince everyone else he is not a "monster."

    • "I realize that's a battle I'm going to have to face for the rest of my life," Rice told the Baltimore Sun in a story published Saturday. "Time does heal everything, but I don't think people are going to forget this. I want people to not forget about the incident, but I want people to see there's a human being on the other side. This is not a monster, a guy who's a repeat offender. I'm not the guy they stereotype me to be. I'm (also) not excusing what I did."

      Rice was charged last year with felony aggravated assault after he knocked out his fiancée (now wife), Janay, with a punch in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. In a standard plea deal for such cases, Rice avoided jail time through a pretrial intervention program.

      Rice said the hate he felt from the public sent him into a nearly suicidal state of mind.

      "You almost want to punish yourself," he said. "I know I'm never going to win the battle of public opinion. Honestly, I almost felt like at one point that it wasn't worth living. I see why people commit suicide. It hurt that bad. I was low, real low. It hurt that bad because you worked your whole life to do all the right things and then you're the world's most hated person."

      Rice, who was released by the Baltimore Ravens in the wake of the assault, said he is intent on returning to the league to finish on his terms.

      "I don't want my career to be defined by this one moment," he said. "I've been smart with money and the NFL is a great-paying game, but I really want to get back out there for my pride and to be able to leave the game with dignity. I don't ever want to feel exiled out, because I wasn't that guy. ... I know I'm not ready to call it quits yet."

      Asked how he would try to convince NFL teams to trust him, he said, "I would own my mistake. I would let them know all the steps I've done to become a better person. I would just reassure them that the person that created this, that committed that horrible act of violence, that's not the person, that's not who I am."

      It remains to be seen whether another team gives Rice a chance -- not only because he could be a PR nightmare but because there is a question of whether he can still be an effective running back at age 28.

      After four straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Ravens, Rice rushed for just 660 yards in 2013, averaging 3.1 per carry. He said he played most of that season with a torn quadriceps.

      "I was basically playing with one leg," he said. "... I played through an injury I probably should have sat through.

      "I'm optimistic that I'll get a second chance," he added. "I don't think this boils down to whether I can play football or not. Obviously I know that. I just think there's so much more that comes with it. I know the PR side of it will be tough. I understand that."

  • Saturday, February 28, 2015
    McCown's deal with Browns is worth $14 million
    By The Sports Xchange

    Quarterback Josh McCown will make the same amount in his first year in Cleveland as he was slated to make in Tampa Bay before the Buccaneers released him.

    • His three-year contract with the Browns is worth $14 million, with $5.25 million due in 2015, according to reports. Overall, the deal guarantees $6.25 million and could be worth up to $20 million.

      McCown chose the Cleveland Browns over the Buffalo Bills on Friday.

      His agent, Mike McCartney, tweeted news of the agreement: "Excited for Josh McCown agreeing to terms with the Cleveland Browns."

      McCown, a 12-year veteran released by the Buccaneers on Feb. 11, had talked with the Chicago Bears and New York Jets as well, and he reportedly was close to a deal with the Bills on Thursday before the Browns began recruiting him heavily.

      "Josh is a high-character, savvy, veteran quarterback that has a lot to offer to our team," coach Mike Pettine said. "When you hear from people that have been around Josh, they speak of the leadership qualities and the positive impact he has on a locker room. I really enjoyed spending time with him during his visit. He has great passion for playing the quarterback position and wants to show that he can still be successful in this league."

      A third-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2002, McCown has played for six teams in 13 seasons. He started 11 games for Tampa Bay in 2014, completing 56.3 percent of his passes for 2,206 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

      McCown, 35, appears to be the Browns' starter for now, with 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel in rehab and 2014 starter Brian Hoyer a pending free agent.

      "I just want to serve our team and help everybody in that locker room," McCown said, "do my best to help everybody in the locker room be better at their job. And they're going to help me, too. It's a two-way street. I'm just excited about coming in and being a part of a team."

      McCown worked with new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo when they both were in Oakland in 2007.

      "Obviously, he is a quarterback that has been in a number of systems and he has worked with (DeFilippo), so there is some good familiarity between the two," Pettine said. "We are excited to have him become part of our team and we look forward to him playing an important role in our offense."

  • Saturday, February 28, 2015
    Report: Colts' Wayne has surgery, mulling future
    By The Sports Xchange

    Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne underwent surgery to repair a torn triceps and reportedly doesn't know yet if his NFL career has reached its conclusion.

    • According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the 36-year-old Wayne is beginning rehab for the injury and still mulling whether to play in 2015.

      Wayne played in 15 regular-season games for the Colts in 2014, totaling 779 yards on 64 catches with two touchdowns.

      Wayne said after the Colts lost the AFC Championship Game that he didn't have a plan for 2015.

      Colts coach Chuck Pagano said after the season that he would not be shocked to see Wayne back next season.

      "You guys know the way Reggie's wired. You know his work ethic. You know his mindset. Would I be shocked? No. We just take things one day at a time," Pagano said last month.

      Wayne becomes a free agent on March 10 and apparently there has been no talk of any contract discussions with the Colts.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    QB McCown signs with Browns
    By The Sports Xchange

    Quarterback Josh McCown chose the Cleveland Browns over the Buffalo Bills on Friday, reportedly agreeing to a three-year contract.

    • His agent, Mike McCartney, tweeted news of the agreement: "Excited for Josh McCown agreeing to terms with the Cleveland Browns." The deal is for three years, according to FOX Sports, NFL.com and ESPN.com.

      McCown, a 12-year veteran released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 11, had talked with the Chicago Bears and New York Jets as well, and he reportedly was close to a deal with the Bills on Thursday before the Browns began recruiting him heavily.

      "Josh is a high-character, savvy, veteran quarterback that has a lot to offer to our team," coach Mike Pettine said. "When you hear from people that have been around Josh, they speak of the leadership qualities and the positive impact he has on a locker room. I really enjoyed spending time with him during his visit. He has great passion for playing the quarterback position and wants to show that he can still be successful in this league."

      A third-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2002, McCown has played for six teams in 13 seasons. He started 11 games for Tampa Bay in 2014, completing 56.3 percent of his passes for 2,206 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

      McCown, 35, appears to be the Browns' starter for now, with 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel in rehab and 2014 starter Brian Hoyer a pending free agent.

      "I just want to serve our team and help everybody in that locker room," McCown said, "do my best to help everybody in the locker room be better at their job. And they're going to help me, too. It's a two-way street. I'm just excited about coming in and being a part of a team."

      McCown worked with new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo when they both were in Oakland in 2007.

      "Obviously, he is a quarterback that has been in a number of systems and he has worked with (DeFilippo), so there is some good familiarity between the two," Pettine said. "We are excited to have him become part of our team and we look forward to him playing an important role in our offense."

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    NFL notebook: QB McCown signs with Browns
    By The Sports Xchange

    Quarterback Josh McCown chose the Cleveland Browns over the Buffalo Bills on Friday, reportedly agreeing to a three-year contract.

    • His agent, Mike McCartney, tweeted news of the agreement: "Excited for Josh McCown agreeing to terms with the Cleveland Browns." The deal is for three years, according to FOX Sports, NFL.com and ESPN.com.

      McCown, a 12-year veteran released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 11, had talked with the Chicago Bears and New York Jets as well, and he reportedly was close to a deal with the Bills on Thursday.

      A third-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2002, McCown has played for six teams in 13 seasons. He started 11 games for Tampa Bay in 2014, completing 56.3 percent of his passes for 2,206 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

      McCown, 35, appears to be the Browns' starter for now, with 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel in rehab and 2014 starter Brian Hoyer a pending free agent.

      ---Unable to come to agreement on a reconfigured contract with Darnell Dockett, the Arizona Cardinals released the veteran defensive tackle on Friday.

      The team still wants him back, just not at the $6.8 million he was scheduled to be paid in the final year of a four-year, $35.3 million contract he signed in 2012.

      Dockett, 33, missed the 2014 season with a torn ACL suffered in practice Aug. 18.

      A third-round pick in 2004, Dockett had played in 158 games over his 10 years with the Cardinals. He made the Pro Bowl in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

      --- A day after winning his appeal against the NFL, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said the decision by Judge David Doty "brings me one step closer to getting back on the football field."

      On Thursday, Doty granted a petition to vacate the indefinite suspension handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL then appealed the decision and returned Peterson to the commissioner's exempt list.

      "I was pleased to learn about Judge Doty's decision," Peterson said in a written statement Friday. "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."

      ---The Atlanta Falcons continued to clear unwanted players off new coach Dan Quinn's roster by releasing wide receiver Harry Douglas and guard Justin Blalock.

      The Falcons later waived defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi.

      Those moves come a day after the team released veteran running back Steven Jackson, furthering an apparent offensive makeover under new coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

      Douglas was due to make $3.5 million in the final year of the four-year, $12.5 million contract he signed with the Falcons in 2012.

      Blalock was scheduled to make $4.75 million in the fifth year of a six-year deal worth $38.4 million.

      ---The Miami Dolphins released veteran wide receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson.

      Hartline, drafted by Miami in the fourth round in 2009, signed a five-year, $30.8 million contract in 2013. He was due $5.9 million in 2015. The move saves Miami $3.15 million against the salary cap.

      Gibson, 27, was due $3.26 million in 2015 in the final year of a three-year deal worth $9.78 million he signed after leaving the St. Louis Rams in 2013.

      --- The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of 10-year NFL veteran defensive end Chris Canty.

      The move saves the team $2.66 million in salary-cap space. Canty was entering the final year of a three-year, $8 million contract.

      Canty, 32, spent two seasons with the Ravens, seeing action in 26 games (24 starts). He recorded 63 tackles, 2.5 sacks, six passes defensed and three forced fumbles while playing in Baltimore.

      --- A day after signing Ricky Jean Francois, the Washington Redskins dumped two other defensive linemen, Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen.

      Cofield, 30, played in just eight games last season due to groin and ankle injuries that landed him on temporary injured reserve.

      Cofield, who signed a six-year, $36 million deal with Washington in 2011, had started every game the previous three years. In four seasons with Washington, Cofield tallied 100 tackles, nine sacks and 15 pass deflections.

      Bowen, 30, was scheduled to make $5.5 million in the final year of his five-year, $27.5 million deal.

      The Redskins also re-signed right tackle Tom Compton, who started nine games in 2014, to a one-year deal.

      --- The Cincinnati Bengals terminated the contracts of defensive end Robert Geathers and wide receiver Greg Little.

      Cutting Geathers saves the Bengals $3.05 million against the salary cap in 2015. Little was due to earn $745,000 in base salary in the final year of a two-year, $1.39 million contract.

      Geathers is an 11-year veteran who has played in 152 games for Cincinnati, third-most in Bengals history among defensive linemen behind Tim Krumrie (188) and Eddie Edwards (170). He was originally a fourth-round pick in 2004 and has played his entire career with the Bengals.

      Little caught six passes for 69 yards while appearing in six games in 2014.

      --- The Philadelphia Eagles released veteran offensive lineman Todd Herremans.

      The move cleared $2.8 million from the salary cap, but the Eagles also must eat $2.4 million in dead money. Herremans, 32, signed a three-year extension worth $21 million in 2012.

      A fourth-round draft choice of the Eagles in 2005, Herremans played his first 10 seasons in Philadelphia and appeared in 135 games.

      Health will be the main hurdle in Herremans linking up with another team. He attempted to play through a biceps injury last season but wound up on injured reserve on Nov. 5.

      --- The Minnesota Vikings released veteran offensive guard Charlie Johnson.

      Johnson missed just three games in his four seasons with the Vikings. He was due $2.45 million in base salary and had a $2.5 million cap hit for 2015.

      Johnson came to Minnesota in 2011 after spending his first five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

      --- The Chicago Bears signed tight end Zach Miller to a one-year contract extension through the 2015 season.

      Miller missed the 2014 season with a foot injury. After signing with the Bears last offseason, he caught six passes for 68 yards and two scores in the team's first preseason game. A Lisfranc injury in his left foot landed Miller on injured reserve Aug. 15.

      Miller has played in 33 games during his NFL career, all with Jacksonville (2009-11), recording 45 receptions for 470 yards and four touchdowns.

      --- The Detroit Lions re-signed long snapper Don Muhlbach to a one-year contract.

      Muhlbach has handled the Lions' long snapping since he came to Detroit in 2004. He was named to the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season, becoming the first Lions special-teams player other than a punter, kicker or returner to receive the honor.

      With 164 games played for the Lions, Muhlbach ranks sixth in franchise history.

      --- Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, has been invited to the league's inaugural veteran combine on March 22.

      Sam was drafted in the seventh round last May by the St. Louis Rams but failed to make their 53-man roster. He was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys and added to their practice squad before being released in October after seven weeks.

      Sam, 25, continues to train in Los Angeles at a gym co-owned by former NFL linebacker Brian Urlacher and FOX NFL insider Jay Glazer.

      In addition, former first-round quarterback Vince Young will be taking part in the veteran combine, according to NFL Network.

      Young, who last took a snap with the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2011 season, took a job last year at the University of Texas.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Falcons release WR Douglas, OG Blalock
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Atlanta Falcons continued to clear unwanted players off new coach Dan Quinn's roster Friday by releasing wide receiver Harry Douglas and guard Justin Blalock.

    • The Falcons later waived defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi.

      Those moves come a day after the team released veteran running back Steven Jackson, furthering an apparent offensive makeover under new coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

      Douglas was due to make $3.5 million in the final year of the four-year, $12.5 million contract he signed with the Falcons in 2012.

      The 6-foot, 183-pound Douglas was selected by the Falcons in the third round (84th overall) of the 2008 draft. He played in 91 games (26 starts) and totaled 3,130 receiving yards on 258 catches, with eight touchdowns. Last season, he had 51 catches for 556 yards and two scores in 12 games.

      Blalock was scheduled to make $4.75 million in the fifth year of a six-year deal worth $38.4 million. He will still count $4.12 million against the salary cap due to signing bonus proration.

      Blalock, 31, started 125 games in eight years for Atlanta, but the 6-foot-4, 326-pounder is not considered a fit for Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme.

      Massaquoi, a fifth-round pick in 2012, tallied 60 tackles and six sacks in 39 games with the Falcons.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Vikings' Peterson: Ruling 'brings me one step closer'
    By The Sports Xchange

    A day after winning his appeal against the NFL, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said Friday that the decision by Judge David Doty "brings me one step closer to getting back on the football field."

    • On Thursday, Doty granted a petition to vacate the indefinite suspension handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

      The NFL then appealed the decision and returned Peterson to the commissioner's exempt list.

      "I was pleased to learn about Judge Doty's decision," Peterson said in a written statement Friday. "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 was initially placed on the commissioner's exempt list in September, when Peterson was charged with abusing his 4-year-old son in Texas.

      Peterson avoided jail time, pleading no contest to reckless assault on Nov. 4, and Goodell suspended Peterson for the rest of the 2014 season for a violation of the personal conduct policy.

      Under guidelines Goodell established, Peterson would not have been eligible for reinstatement until April 15.

      Peterson said Feb. 6 he felt like he "got a fair hearing" in Minneapolis, where he presented his argument to Doty. At the time, Peterson said he wanted to stay with the Vikings, but he made no mention of the Vikings on Friday.

      Peterson has three years remaining on his contract. He is owed $12.75 million next season.

      His agent, Ben Dogra, had an altercation with chief contract negotiator Rob Brzezinski at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last week when Dogra reportedly told the Vikings that Peterson was done in Minneapolis. Reports had surfaced that Peterson was not fully comfortable returning to the team.

      Peterson told friends that he felt "betrayed" by the Vikings, according to reports. However, Peterson's father said last week that he would not rule out a return to the team.

      In the meantime, the NFL is appealing Doty's ruling and has placed Peterson back on the exempt list, where he spent most of the 2014 season.

      In a written statement Thursday, the NFL said: "We believe strongly that Judge Doty's order is incorrect and fundamentally at odds with well-established legal precedent governing the district court's role in reviewing arbitration decisions. As a result, we have filed notice of appeal to have the ruling reviewed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the interim, Adrian Peterson will be returned to the Commissioner Exempt List pending further proceedings by appeals officer Harold Henderson or a determination by the Eighth Circuit Court."

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Redskins cut DLs Cofield, Bowen
    By The Sports Xchange

    A day after signing Ricky Jean Francois, the Washington Redskins dumped two other defensive linemen, Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen, on Friday.

    • Cofield, 30, played in just eight games last season due to groin and ankle injuries that landed him on temporary injured reserve.

      Cofield, who signed a six-year, $36 million deal with Washington in 2011, had started every game the previous three years. In four seasons with Washington, Cofield tallied 100 tackles, nine sacks and 15 pass deflections.

      The Redskins reportedly had been trying to get Cofield to lower his $5 million payout for 2015, but they apparently could not come to an agreement. The team will save $4.12 million by releasing him, and he will count $3.56 million in dead money.

      Bowen, 30, was scheduled to make $5.5 million in the final year of his five-year, $27.5 million deal, so the team will add that money to its estimated $23 million in salary cap space. Bowen will count $2.52 million.

      Bowen's best year with Washington was his first, as he collected 41 tackles and six sacks in 2011.

      A knee injury suffered in 2013 affected his 2014 season as well. He started the season on the PUP list while recovering from microfracture surgery and played in just eight games.

      Cofield and Bowen leave as Jean Francois arrives. A recent cut by the Indianapolis Colts, Jean Francois signed a three-year deal worth $9 million on Thursday.

      Jean Francois likely will replace pending free agent Jarvis Jenkins on a line that includes Jason Hatcher and Chris Baker.

      A six-year NFL veteran, Jean Francois spent his first four seasons with with the San Francisco 49ers and the past two with the Colts. compiling 95 tackles (64 solo), 8 1/2 sacks, eight passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Last year, Jean Francois looged career highs in starts (13), tackles (28), tackles for loss (seven), passes defensed (four), sacks (3.0) and fumble recoveries (one).

      On Friday, the Redskins also re-signed right tackle Tom Compton, who started nine games in 2014, to a one-year deal.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Cardinals release DT Dockett
    By The Sports Xchange

    Unable to come to agreement on a reconfigured contract with Darnell Dockett, the Arizona Cardinals released the veteran defensive tackle on Friday.

    • The team still wants him back, just not at the $6.8 million he was scheduled to be paid in the final year of a four-year, $35.3 million contract he signed in 2012.

      "We have been very clear about our feelings for Darnell and our desire to have him back," general manager Steve Keim said in a written statement. "After speaking with him and his representatives, we decided that this move today makes the most sense for both the team and the player and allows each to keep all of its options open."

      Dockett, 33, missed the 2014 season with a torn ACL suffered in practice Aug. 18.

      A third-round pick in 2004, Dockett had played in 158 games over his 10 years with the Cardinals. He made the Pro Bowl in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

      In 2013, his most recent healthy season, Dockett recorded 46 tackles and 4.5 sacks. In his 10-year career, he has 459 tackles and 40.5 sacks, plus four interceptions.

      Dockett joins a growing list of veteran defensive tackles on the open market less than two weeks before the league year begins and dozens more players hit free agency.

      Among the other defensive tackles who have been released this week are Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen (Washington Redskins), Chris Canty (Baltimore Ravens), Robert Geathers (Cincinnati Bengals) and Kendall Langford (St. Louis Rams).

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    LS Muhlbach re-signs with Lions
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Detroit Lions re-signed long snapper Don Muhlbach to a one-year contract on Friday.

    • Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the team.

      Muhlbach has handled the Lions' long snapping since he came to Detroit in 2004. He was named to the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season, becoming the first Lions special-teams player other than a punter, kicker or returner to receive the honor.

      With 164 games played for the Lions, Muhlbach ranks sixth in franchise history in career appearances.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Dolphins cut WRs Hartline, Gibson
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Miami Dolphins released veteran wide receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson on Friday.

    • Hartline, drafted by Miami in the fourth round in 2009, signed a five-year, $30.8 million contract in 2013. He was due $5.9 million in 2015. The move saves Miami $3.15 million against the salary cap.

      Hartline had a disappointing 2014 season after registering 1,083 yards in 2012 and 1,016 yards in 2013. He caught only 39 passes for 474 yards and two scores last season.

      The 28-year-old has 4,243 yards and 12 touchdowns in six seasons.

      Gibson, 27, was due $3.26 million in 2015 in the final year of a three-year deal worth $9.78 million he signed after leaving the St. Louis Rams in 2013.

      In 21 games over two years in Miami, Gibson caught 59 passes for 621 yards and four touchdowns.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Sam invited to first veteran combine
    By The Sports Xchange

    Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, has been invited to the league's inaugural veteran combine on March 22.

    • The league confirmed Friday a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN.

      Sam was drafted in the seventh round last May by the St. Louis Rams but failed to make their 53-man roster at the end of the preseason. He was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys and added to their practice squad before being released in October after seven weeks.

      Sam this week joined the new season of "Dancing With The Stars." He is currently in rehearsals.

      Sam, 25, continues to train in Los Angeles at a gym co-owned by former NFL linebacker Brian Urlacher and FOX NFL insider Jay Glazer.

      Earlier this month marked the one-year anniversary of Sam's landmark announcement that he is gay and wants to play in the NFL.

      The 6-foot-2, 261-pound Sam, a former University of Missouri defensive end, is hoping the combine could lead to an NFL contract offer and a chance to go to training camp.

      A one-year contract offer from the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes is waiting for him as a contingency.

      The veteran combine will be held at the Arizona Cardinals' training facility in Phoenix. The event is open to free agent players who were previously eligible for an NFL Draft.

      In addition, former first-round quarterback Vince Young will be taking part in the veteran combine, according to NFL Network.

      Young, who last took a regular-season snap with the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2011 season, took a job last year at the University of Texas. He works in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement department at Texas. He led the Longhorns to 31 victories and a BCS Natioal Championship in 2005.

      Young, 31, officially retired from the NFL last June following a brief stint with the Cleveland Browns during minicamp. His six-year career began when the Tennessee Titans drafted him third overall in 2006 and he signed a $58 million deal with $25.7 million guaranteed.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Eagles release OL Herremans
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Philadelphia Eagles released veteran offensive lineman Todd Herremans on Friday.

    • The move cleared $2.8 million from the salary cap, but the Eagles also must eat $2.4 million in dead money. Herremans signed a three-year extension worth $21 million overall and $11 million guaranteed in 2012.

      A fourth-round draft choice of the Eagles in 2005 out of Saginaw Valley State, the 32-year-old Herremans played his first 10 seasons in Philadelphia and appeared in 135 career games with 132 starts, including the playoffs.

      "Todd has been the ultimate professional during my two years in Philadelphia with him," head coach Chip Kelly said Friday in a statement. "He is a tough player and I wish him all of the best as he moves forward in his NFL career. I spoke to him earlier today and one of the things I told him was that by releasing him now, he will have a full opportunity to explore all of his options around the league."

      Health will be the main hurdle in Herremans linking up with another team. He attempted to play through a biceps injury last season but wound up on injured reserve on Nov. 5.

      Possible teams reportedly include the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Vikings release OG Johnson
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Minnesota Vikings released veteran offensive guard Charlie Johnson on Friday.

    • Johnson only missed three games in his four seasons with the Vikings. He was due $2.45 million in base salary and had a $2.5 million cap hit for 2015.

      Johnson came to Minnesota in 2011 after spending his first five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Bengals cut ties with Geathers, Little
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Cincinnati Bengals terminated the contracts of defensive end Robert Geathers and wide receiver Greg Little.

    • Cutting Geathers saves the Bengals $3.05 million against the salary cap in 2015, when Geathers was to earn $2.85 million in base salary and a $200,000 workout bonus in the final year of a three-year, $9 million contract signed in 2013. Little was due to earn $745,000 in base salary in the final year of a two-year, $1.39 million contract.

      Geathers is an 11-year veteran who has played in 152 games for Cincinnati, third-most in Bengals history among defensive linemen behind Tim Krumrie (188) and Eddie Edwards (170). He was originally a fourth-round pick in 2004 and has played his entire career with the Bengals.

      He leaves the Bengals with 473 tackles, 34 sacks, three interceptions, 16 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

      "Robert has been with us for all my seasons except the first one," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, "and he has been a team leader as well as a very productive player. He's an incredible teammate and a true professional, a big part of the winning seasons we've achieved. If Robert elects to pursue an opportunity with another NFL team, the timing of this move will allow him the best possible chance at that."

      Little caught six passes for 69 yards while appearing in six regular-season games in 2014. He played in Cincinnati's lone playoff game, but did not record a catch.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Ravens release DE Canty
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of 10-year NFL veteran defensive end Chris Canty on Friday.

    • The move saves the team $2.66 million in salary-cap space. Canty was entering the final year of a three-year, $8 million contract.

      Canty, 32, spent two seasons with the Ravens, seeing action in 26 games (24 starts). He recorded 63 tackles, 2.5 sacks, six passes defensed and three forced fumbles while playing in Baltimore.

      "I had a conversation with Chris this morning and thanked him for his contributions both on and off the field," general manager Ozzie Newsome said Friday in a statement. "He represents the best of what a Ravens' player is: committed on the field and a shining leader in the community. We thank him for everything he did for us the last two seasons. I know that Chris still wants to explore playing again, and he's preparing to do that. We certainly would not close the door to Chris coming back to us."

      This past season, Canty played in 11 games (all starts), producing 33 tackles, a half-sack, two passes defensed and one forced fumble. He added two solo tackles in Baltimore's two playoff games (one start).

      "We are a better franchise for having Chris Canty with us the last two years," head coach John Harbaugh said. "He added maturity and leadership. Chris played well and played a lot of snaps for us, especially last season. He was an outstanding contributor to our playoff season in 2014. When we were handling serious off-the-field issues last season, Chris stood out internally with our team and represented us externally in the only way you expect from Chris -- with intelligence and in a first-class manner."

      Canty, who won a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants, said he plans to play in 2015.

      "First thing I want to do is thank (owner) Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie and coach 'Harbs' for bringing me to Baltimore and allowing me to wear the purple and black," Canty said in a statement. "I am very proud to be a Raven. They are a great franchise, and I was privileged to be a contributor to that outstanding tradition of defense that is part of the team's lore.

      "I love the coaching staff there, including the defensive staff. Dean (Pees), my line coach Clarence Brooks, Ted (Monachino) -- really, all of them. What can I say about my teammates on that side of the ball? (They are) special players and good people, like 'Sizzle' (Terrell Suggs) and Haloti (Ngata). Thank you. They helped me re-discover and continue my passion for football, a game I respect and love.

      "I also want to thank Ravens fans. They embraced me immediately, and I embraced them back. They were inspirational. I am going to continue to prepare to play again and will explore other possibilities to play the game I love."

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    Bears sign TE Miller to extension
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Chicago Bears signed tight end Zach Miller to a one-year contract extension Friday through the 2015 season.

    • Miller missed the entire 2014 season with a foot injury. After signing with the Bears last offseason, he caught six passes for 68 yards and two scores in the team's first preseason game. A left foot Lisfranc injury landed Miller on injured reserve Aug. 15.

      Miller has played in 33 games with five starts during his NFL career, all with Jacksonville (2009-11), recording 45 receptions for 470 yards and four touchdowns.

  • Friday, February 27, 2015
    NFL Draft: 20 prime pro days
    By The Sports Xchange

    January brought the all-star circuit, February had the NFL combine and March means it's time for the pro day portion of the pre-draft process.

    • Hundreds of scouts and dozens of coaches travel the country over the next 45 days, going campus-to-campus to evaluate prospects in preparation for the 2015 NFL Draft on April 30-May 2.

      Pro days are most crucial for the prospects with something to prove, those unable to work out at the NFL combine due to injury and others who didn't receive an invitation.

      Below are 20 important stops for NFL scouts on the pro day schedule:

      March 2

      TENN.-CHATTANOOGA

      A versatile pass rusher, Davis Tull impressed in Indianapolis with a 42.5-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump, also turning heads during positional drills at linebacker. However, he didn't run the 40-yard dash and cut his combine workout short due to a pulled hamstring he suffered during training. Tull plans to do everything at his on-campus pro day.

      MINNESOTA

      Running back David Cobb ran a 4.81 40-yard dash, but that number is deceiving as he pulled up short with a strained leg muscle and was unable to run a second time. It is unknown if the injury, which also sidelined him for the on-field positional drills at the combine, will allow him to work out at the Gophers pro day. Tight end Maxx Williams, the top-ranked player at his position and possible first round pick, will try to improve upon his combine numbers also after pedestrian results in the 40-yard dash (4.78) and bench press (17).

      March 10

      UCLA

      After a solid showing at the NFL combine, quarterback Brett Hundley has two weeks to get ready for his pro day and is reportedly training with Kurt Warner in preparation for his on-campus workout. While he's not going to catch Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, he's still competing for that No. 3 spot in the quarterback rankings.

      March 11

      COLORADO STATE

      Another quarterback trying to separate himself as the next best option behind Winston and Mariota, Garrett Grayson pulled his hamstring Feb. 10 while training and was unable to participate in any drills at the NFL combine. He said he "should be good" to run and throw at the Rams' pro day, allowing a full month for the injury to heal. Linebacker Max Morgan was snubbed from the combine, but he'll receive his chance to audition for the scouts in attendance and running back Dee Hart should improve on his poor 40-yard dash time (4.80) from Indianapolis.

      RICE

      Despite a dislocated knee cap midway through the 2014 season, defensive tackle Christian Covington decided to skip his senior season. He has been running since January as he rehabs from the injury, but wasn't yet full strength to work out at the NFL combine. However, the fringe top-100 pick said he will "definitely" be ready for his pro day.

      RUTGERS

      Tight end Tyler Kroft was already leaning toward entering the 2015 NFL Draft early so a high ankle sprain in the bowl game wasn't enough to change his mind. However the injury flared up after the medical testing at the combine and kept him from working out for NFL teams at Lucas Oil Stadium. He expects to be fully healthy for his pro day with a goal of running a sub-4.7 time in the 40-yard dash.

      March 12

      OREGON

      Center Hroniss Grasu, who battled injuries as a senior in 2014, couldn't participate in the Senior Bowl and opted not to work out at the NFL combine. It is unknown if he plans to run or lift at the Ducks' pro day, but scouts are eager to put him through drills. Quarterback Marcus Mariota did a nice job throwing at the combine, but his pro day will allow him to show more diversity with his footwork and arm talent. Similar to Johnny Manziel last year, Mariota's pro day will be important for scouts to see him take snaps from under center and throw to the full route tree.

      March 13

      OHIO STATE

      Still recovering from nagging injuries from their senior season, neither tight end Jeff Heuerman nor defensive tackle Michael Bennett was able to work out at the NFL combine. Heuerman, who is still recovering from a sprained ankle, said he is near 100-percent healthy and Bennett hopes to be at full health soon. Both expect to be full participants at the Buckeyes pro day. Wide receiver Devin Smith ran a blazing 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get into the 4.3 range on Ohio State's notoriously fast track.

      March 16

      TOLEDO

      Unfortunately offensive lineman Greg Mancz won't be able to work out as he continues his recovery from a torn right labrum that he suffered at the East-West Shrine Game. But there are several other reasons for NFL scouts to make the trip, including linebacker Junior Sylvestre who was a surprise combine snub. At 6-feet and 220 pounds, he is expected to run in the 4.4 range in the 40-yard dash. Two notable "small school" prospects with NFL talent plan to work out at Toledo's pro day: John Carroll quarterback Mark Myers and Notre Dame College offensive lineman Doniel Gambrell. Myers is one of the better Division III passing prospects in recent memory and Gambrell has the natural tools to have more than a cup of coffee at the next level.

      March 18

      BAYLOR

      Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty struggled at the Senior Bowl but showed some improvements at the NFL combine and will have a chance to make a lasting impression in Waco at Baylor's pro day. He has been working with quarterback guru George Whitfield since his sophomore season so it's likely we'll see garbage cans, broom sticks and other inanimate objects during his passing session, but NFL scouts will focus mostly on Petty's footwork and timing on downfield throws.

      March 19

      MISSOURI

      A possible top-10 pick, Missouri pass rusher Shane Ray was unable to work out at the combine due to foot injury, but he plans to go through every drill at his pro day. He has the best first step quickness in the draft, but NFL scouts are eager to put him through linebacker drills to see how he handles himself in space away from the line of scrimmage.

      SAN DIEGO STATE

      The Aztecs have a few players worth checking out, including wide receiver Ezell Ruffin, but the main attraction might be Colorado State-Pueblo quarterback Chris Bonner, this year's top "small school" passer. He looks the part (6-6, 225) and has the arm to make every NFL throw so he could turn heads and create buzz after his workouts.

      March 25

      FRESNO STATE

      Arguably one of the top five safety prospects in the 2015 class, Derron Smith is a tremendous competitor, but postseason hernia surgery sidelined him for the NFL combine. He has March 25 "circled" on his calendar as he plans to be fully healthy for the Bulldogs pro day.

      CENTRAL FLORIDA

      A possible first-round pick, wide receiver Breshad Perriman strained his hamstring during combine training and wasn't cleared to run in Indianapolis. The son of long-time NFL receiver Brett Perriman, he is very well liked in the scouting community with some believing he could crash the top-20 with a strong pro day performance.

      March 26

      UTAH

      After tearing the meniscus in his left knee in October, wide receiver Dres Anderson has been rehabbing the past few months and still wasn't at 100 percent for the combine. The son of former NFL receiver Flipper Anderson, he is doing some light running now and told me the knee will be "good" by his pro day with goals of running in the "high 4.3" range in the 40-yard dash.

      March 31

      CONNECTICUT

      At 6-1, 199 pounds, cornerback Byron Jones had Lucas Oil Stadium buzzing after setting a combine record in the broad jump (12-feet-3) and testing extremely well in the vertical (44 inches), 3-cone drill (6.78 seconds) and short shuttle (3.94). He had labrum surgery in October and is only a few weeks recovered so he passed on the 40-yard dash and positional drills, opting to wait for his pro day. One of the more underrated wide receivers in the draft, Geremy Davis performed well at the combine, but decided to wait for the pro day to run his 40-yard dash due to a lower leg injury.

      FLORIDA STATE

      Quarterback Jameis Winston will be the star attraction, but several other Florida State prospects will be under the NFL microscope, including defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, who sat out combine drills. Tight end Nick O'Leary (4.93 40-yard dash), cornerback P.J. Williams (4.57 40-yard dash) and offensive linemen Josue Matias (17.5-inch vertical, 7-foot broad jump) and Tre Jackson (25-inch vertical, 8-foot broad jump) were unimpressive during combine workouts and need to focus on improving those numbers between now and the Seminoles' pro day.

      April 1

      SOUTH CAROLINA

      Offensive guard A.J. Cann arrived in Indianapolis with the intention of performing every drill, but only participated in the positional workouts, skipping the 40-yard dash and other agility tests because of a sprain in his left calf. He didn't participate in the Senior Bowl due to a sprained knee so performing at full health at the Gamecocks' pro day will be imperative to his draft grade. Offensive tackle Corey Robinson had an MRI after the 2014 season that revealed a meniscus tear and required surgery so he was a non-participant at the combine as well. He hopes to be ready for the pro day, but that will depend on his rehab.

      April 2

      WASHINGTON

      Linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha suffered two ACL tears in his career, but it was an illness that kept him from running the 40-yard dash and other drills at the NFL combine. Teams seem split on his NFL role so his performance at the pro day will be important. Cornerback Marcus Peters was dismissed from the team in November, but he has since mended his relationship with the coaches and was invited back to campus for the Huskies' pro day. It will be an interesting dynamic to see his interaction with the Washington coaches and personnel. Linebacker Shaq Thompson made it known at the combine that he is a linebacker and would not perform any running back or safety drills, but there will be some scouts who will try and convince him to work out at the other positions at his pro day.

      April 15

      INDIANA

      The Hoosiers' pro day is set for March 30, but running back Tevin Coleman will have his own workout in mid-April as he rehabs an injury. He suffered a toe injury in the fifth game of the season, but played through the issue and became the fourth fastest in FBS history to reach 2,000 rushing yards in a season, needing only 264 rush attempts to hit the mark. Coleman had tendon surgery after the season and should be back to full health for his personal pro day.

  • Thursday, February 26, 2015
    Backup QB Hasselbeck re-ups with Colts
    By The Sports Xchange

    Two weeks before quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was due to become an unrestricted free agent, the Indianapolis Colts signed him to a one-year contract extension Thursday.

    • Financial terms were not disclosed.

      Hasselbeck, 39, spent the past two seasons as Andrew Luck's backup. He saw action in three games in 2013 and four in 2014, all off the bench, and he completed a combined 37 of 56 passes for 431 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

      A sixth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1998, Hasselbeck is heading into his 16th NFL season. He spent two seasons backing up Brett Favre with the Packers, then was traded to Seattle in March 2001 and spent the next 10 seasons as the Seahawks' starting quarterback.

      Hasselbeck made the Pro Bowl after the 2003, 2005 and 2007 seasons, and he guided Seattle to the Super Bowl after the 2005 season. He holds numerous Seahawks passing records, including career marks for pass attempts in a game, season and career; completions in a game, season and career; and passing yards in a game, season and career.

      In July 2011, Hasselbeck signed a free agent deal with the Titans and started a combined 21 games for Tennessee in 2011 and 2012. He joined the Colts in March 2013.

      After news of Hasselbeck's extension broke, Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman posted on Twitter, "Welcome back @Hasselbeck aka 'The Ageless Wonder'...Hasn't aged one bit!!"

  • Thursday, February 26, 2015
    Falcons release RB Jackson
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Atlanta Falcons released veteran running back Steven Jackson on Thursday, adding to a growing list of rushers who have been or will be released before free agency begins March 10.

    • Jackson, 31, signed with the Falcons in 2013 after spending his first nine years with the St. Louis Rams. Over the past two seasons, he rushed for 1,240 yards and 12 touchdowns while battling injuries -- he missed four games in 2013 and one in 2014.

      Jackson was due to make $3.75 million in the final year of his contract with the Falcons -- money they will recoup under the salary cap.

      Jackson was the Rams' first-round pick in 2004 and surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in all but his rookie season, leaving as the franchise leader with 10,138 yards. His 11,388 yards rank 16th in NFL history.

      Jackson joins a number of veteran running backs who have become free agents ahead of the start of the league year March 10: Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, DeAngelo Williams and Peyton Hillis.

  • Thursday, February 26, 2015
    NFL fires back appeal to A.P. ruling
    By The Sports Xchange

    Stubbornly sticking with its shoot-and-run offense, the National Football League quickly reloaded an appeal Thursday to counter U.S. Superior Court Judge David S. Doty's ruling to overturn the suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

    • But there is nothing appealing about the league's persistence on bowing to public pressure by throwing players under the bus in a manner that is unnecessarily humiliating to all concerned. If the goal is to achieve a lose-lose scenario, the NFL is on target.

      It absolutely is admirable, even advisable, to take a firm stand against domestic violence, which is at the heart of the Peterson case. But it remains unclear how the NFL's trigger-happy response is making things better for anybody, including the four-year-old son that Peterson disciplined with a wooden switch last May.

      In a series of responses -- ostensibly to the abuse charges but perhaps more so to public pressure -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell first placed the player on the commissioner's exempt list, then suspended him indefinitely.

      That is in contrast to Montgomery County Judge Kelly Case's decision on Nov. 4 in Conroe, Texas, to accept a plea deal from Peterson. He was sentenced to probation, 80 hours of community service and a $4,000 fine.

      "I want to say I truly regret this incident," Peterson said immediately after the hearing.

      On Nov. 18, with the NFL in the public spotlight regarding domestic violence -- including another case involving running back Ray Rice -- Goodell announced Peterson was suspended indefinitely, telling the player "you have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct."

      With that, Goodell was congratulated by many, including ever-present special interest groups, as he appeared to compensate for what some thought was too little discipline by the Texas judicial system.

      Implementing a new personal conduct policy, which actually didn't exist at the time of the infraction, Goodell issued the suspension.

      Peterson's $700,000 a week paycheck and millions of dollars in endorsements evaporated. His status would be up for review in April 2015.

      Setting aside perspective on whether Peterson displayed enough contrition, it is difficult to understand how that significant loss of income -- much of it permanent -- made it better for Peterson's son. His father, unlike many in pro sports, at least takes part in rearing the child, even if the manner of east Texas discipline is disturbing to many, including the NFL suits in New York.

      Never mind that Peterson certainly learned a lesson through all this, a lesson surely now understood everywhere, including east Texas. It appears the league wants to make more of this, for whatever reason.

      Spinning forward to Thursday, Judge Doty sided with the NFL Players Association's request to vacate a ruling by arbitrator Harold Henderson, who upheld Goodell's suspension and rejected the union's claim that the league failed to observe due process when it enforced a new personal conduct policy retroactively.

      The NFL's appeal will throw the issue back to Henderson, the appeals officer.

      "Our collective bargaining agreement has rules for implementation of the personal conduct policy, and when those rules are violated, our union always stands up to protect our players' rights," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in the statement.

      Unlike the Rice case, in which the NFL also lost a legal challenge, it can appeal this latest ruling if it wants.

      And it wants.

      "(W)e believe strongly that Judge Doty's order is incorrect and fundamentally at odds with well-established legal precedent governing the district court's role in reviewing arbitration decisions," the NFL said in a statement to the media.

      "As a result, we have filed a notice of appeal to have the ruling reviewed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the interim, Adrian Peterson will be returned to the Commissioner Exempt List pending further proceedings by appeals officer Harold Henderson or a determination by the Eighth Circuit Court."

      So the league continues what many believe is an admirable campaign to address important issues that are tearing at the fabric of our society. Goodell's feet were being put to the fire on the hot-button issue of domestic violence. Never mind surveys by women against domestic violence show that the highest percentage of abuse is by police officers, about 40 percent of them according to the survey.

      But, for some reason, Goodell put the league and himself in this leadership role against this social ailment when he conceded that he erred by originally penalizing Rice with only a two-game suspension. Goodell then banished Rice indefinitely, which turned out to be as long as the NFL could appeal those many judicial decisions against it.

      Perhaps the NFL should throw a penalty flag at Doty for targeting. He has blindsided the aggressive, and somewhat arrogant, actions of the league so many times that it surely qualifies as a defenseless player. Or so it seems in his court.

      --Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, covered the NFL and the draft since the 1960s and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  • Thursday, February 26, 2015
    Peterson wins appeal, goes back on exempt list
    By The Sports Xchange

    Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson won his appeal Thursday when Judge David S. Doty granted a petition to vacate the indefinite suspension handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

    • The NFL then appealed the decision and returned Peterson to the commissioner's exempt list.

      "There is no dispute that the Commissioner imposed Peterson's discipline under the New Policy," Doty wrote Thursday. "It is also undisputed that in the (Ray) Rice arbitration, the hearing officer unequivocally recognized that the New Policy cannot be applied retroactively, notwithstanding the Commissioner's broad discretion in meting out punishment under the CBA.

      "Consistent with that recognition, the Commissioner has acknowledged that he did not have the power to retroactively apply the New Policy: The policy change was forward looking because the League is 'required to provide proper notice.' Yet, just two weeks later, the Commissioner retroactively applied the New Policy to Peterson."

      Goodell's decision to indefinitely suspend former Ravens running back Ray Rice was overturned by arbitrator Barbara Jones, a U.S. district judge. The NFL claimed the ruling should be irrelevant to Peterson's case, but Doty said he found "no valid basis to distinguish this case over the Rice matter."

      Doty's ruling does not equate to reinstatement for Peterson, whose case returns to the arbitration process. His original appeal was denied by Harold Henderson. In Doty's 16-page ruling Thursday, he said Henderson "disregarded the law of the shop and in doing so failed to meet his duty."

      Doty, who heard Peterson's formal appeal Feb. 6, has long been viewed as a player-friendly judge.

      "This is a victory for the rule of law, due process and fairness," the NFLPA said in a statement Thursday. "Our collective bargaining agreement has rules for implementation of the personal conduct policy and when those rules are violated, our union always stands up to protect our players' rights. This is yet another example why neutral arbitration is good for our players, good for the owners and good for our game."

      The NFL said Thursday through spokesman Brian McCarthy that it would "review the decision." It later announced that it was appealing and placed Peterson back on the exempt list, where he spent most of the 2014 season.

      In a written statement, the NFL said: "We believe strongly that Judge Doty's order is incorrect and fundamentally at odds with well-established legal precedent governing the district court's role in reviewing arbitration decisions. As a result, we have filed notice of appeal to have the ruling reviewed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the interim, Adrian Peterson will be returned to the Commissioner Exempt List pending further proceedings by appeals officer Harold Henderson or a determination by the Eighth Circuit Court."

      The Vikings then released a statement Thursday, saying: "Adrian Peterson is an important member of the Minnesota Vikings, and our focus remains on welcoming him back when he is able to rejoin our organization. Today's ruling leaves Adrian's status under the control of the NFL, the NFLPA and the legal system, and we will have no further comment at this time."

      Peterson has three years remaining on his contract. He is owed $12.75 million next season.

      It's not clear whether he wants to return to the Vikings. His agent, Ben Dogra, had an altercation with chief contract negotiator Rob Brzezinski at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last week when Dogra reportedly told the Vikings that Peterson was done in Minneapolis. Reports had surfaced that Peterson was not fully comfortable returning to the team.

      Peterson told friends that he felt "betrayed" by the Vikings, according to reports. However, Peterson's father said last week that he would not rule out a return to the team.

      Peterson can be traded after the league year begins March 10. Last year, he told Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that he would love to play in Dallas. DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL in rushing last season and was voted Offensive Player of the Year, is an unrestricted free agent.

      Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said at the combine that the Vikings would welcome Peterson back. Coach Mike Zimmer said he also valued Peterson as a football player. However, the team is not likely to bring Peterson back at a lofty price tag.

      Peterson was placed on the commissioner's exempt list in September, when charges for child abuse were filed in Texas involving Peterson's 4-year-old son.

      He had been charged with injuring his 4-year-old son in May, causing visible injuries to his legs, thighs and scrotum. Peterson claimed he did not intend injury while disciplining the boy with a wooden switch.

      Peterson avoided jail time pleading no contest to reckless assault on Nov. 4, and Goodell suspended Peterson for the rest of the 2014 season for a violation of the personal conduct policy.

      Under guidelines Goodell established, Peterson would not have been eligible for reinstatement until April 15.

      Peterson said Feb. 6 he felt like he "got a fair hearing" in Minneapolis, where he presented his argument to Doty. At the time, Peterson said he wanted to stay with the Vikings.