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  • Report: Marijuana charge against 49ers' Foster dismissed
    By Field Level Media / Friday, May 25, 2018

    Two days after domestic violence charges against him were dropped, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster got some more good news.

    • A pending misdemeanor marijuana case in Alabama was dropped on Friday after Foster completed a diversion program, according to 49ers beat writer Matt Barrows.

      "Per Tuscaloosa district attorney's office, Reuben Foster's misdemeanor marijuana case there has been dismissed after he completed a diversion course there," Barrow tweeted.

      Foster joined the club's voluntary organized team activities in Santa Clara, Calif. on Thursday, the first time he was with the team in an official capacity in more than a month.

      On Wednesday, Santa Clara (Calif.) County Judge Nona L. Klippen dropped two felony domestic violence charges against Foster. A week earlier, Foster's ex-girlfriend had recanted her Feb. 11 accusation that he hit her in the head eight to 10 times, causing facial bruises and a ruptured eardrum.

      Elissa Ennis told that court that she lied about Foster after he broke up with her, trying to ruin his career and "end him."

      Ennis won't face charges for making false statements. According to the Sacramento Bee, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office issued a statement that read: "We don't charge domestic violence victims who falsely recant. We empathize with them, we support them, and we advocate for them."

      Foster's legal troubles aren't completely behind him. He still faces a pre-trial hearing in Santa Clara on June 6 for an assault-weapon change that was reduced to a misdemeanor from a felony.

      In addition, the NFL could discipline Foster under its personal-conduct policy.

      --Field Level Media

  • T.O. to grace cover of Madden 19
    By Field Level Media / Friday, May 25, 2018

    Get your popcorn ready; Terrell Owens has been selected for the cover of Madden 19, the latest installment of the popular video game franchise from EA Sports.

    • The mercurial, retired wide receiver star will sport a Cowboys uniform for the cover image.

      This year's game, dubbed the Hall of Fame edition, debuts on Aug. 10, just days after T.O. is set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame himself. The Madden franchise generally uses an active player on the cover, although Barry Sanders had been retired for 15 years when he graced the cover on some versions of the game in 2013.

      Owens played for the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals from 1996 to 2010. He put together several impressive seasons and is second all-time in receiving yards (15,934) and third in touchdown receptions (153) behind Randy Moss and Jerry Rice.

      Owens, who famously celebrated on the Cowboys star at midfield after scoring a touchdown while with the 49ers, told fans and reporters to "Getcha popcorn ready" when he later joined the franchise.

      FLM disclaimer: Don't actually eat popcorn while you play Madden 19, you'll make your controller slick and borderline unusable.

      The new Madden installment promises a host of new features to be unveiled on June 9.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Ex-Jaguars TE Lewis joining Packers
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, May 24, 2018

    Veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis is joining the Green Bay Packers for the upcoming season, according to multiple reports Thursday.

    • The Packers had not announced the move, but Lewis posted a picture on Instagram of him signing a contract. He had been in Green Bay visiting the Packers on Thursday.

      The Jaguars released Lewis, 34, in March in a move that saved Jacksonville $3.5 million against the salary cap. He had started 157 games for them.

      Lewis is the Jaguars' all-time leader in receptions by a tight end with 375 catches for 4,502 yards and 33 touchdowns. He has played in 12 NFL seasons, all with Jacksonville. The highly regarded blocker appeared in all 16 games last season and made 24 catches for 318 yards and five touchdowns.

      Free agent tight end Jimmy Graham signed with Green Bay in March.

      --Field Level Media

  • Attorney: Cowboys WR Williams misspoke about crash
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, May 24, 2018

    Dallas Cowboys wideout Terrance Williams mistakenly told police that former Baylor teammate and current Minnesota Vikings wideout Kendall Wright was driving his Lamborghini when it crashed over the weekend, according to Williams' attorney.

    • Chip Lewis, Williams' attorney, told the Dallas Morning News on Thursday that Williams -- not Wright -- was driving the car when it crashed early Saturday morning. He added that Williams and Wright had been together earlier in the evening, but that Williams was alone when his vehicle hopped a curb and wrecked.

      Williams was arrested near his home before dawn in Frisco, Texas, and charged with public intoxication -- a Class C misdemeanor in Texas -- after police found his car wrecked from striking a light pole at an intersection near the Cowboys' training complex.

      According to the police report, there was no driver present when the car was found at 4:41 a.m., but police determined the vehicle was registered to Williams and went to his home in a nearby gated community. The attendant at the gate said Williams had come through as a passenger in a car about 10 to 15 minutes earlier.

      As the officers were leaving the gate to return to the site of the wreck, one officer saw Williams riding an electric scooter out of the exit gate. As two police vehicles approached the swerving scooter from behind, Williams looked back, swerved more severely and crashed, sending him over the handlebars.

      While checking to make sure Williams was all right, an officer noted several signs of intoxication, including watery eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol on Williams' breath.

      According to the report, Williams went on to tell police that he had been at his home the "whole time" and that Wright had called him around 1:45 a.m. to tell him he had crashed the Lamborghini. Williams said he was driving the scooter to check on the car, adding that Wright had left the crash scene in a yellow Camaro to go to a club.

      Police also wrote in the report that Williams said he would "never put himself in a (messed) up situation where we would be there" and "stated multiple times throughout (the) conversation that he would never put himself in a bad situation and he would not lie to us."

      Lewis told the Morning News that Williams and not Wright was not driving the car, but added he hasn't seen the police report yet, saying, "All I have is what Terrance remembers."

      "All of that is news to me," the lawyer continued. "Anytime you hit a curve going about 60 mph and he struck his head, I don't know, but we're going to find out. I have to do the work necessary when you have an injury like this when you hit your head if there is any head trauma as far as a gap in memory."

      In a statement released by Lewis on Saturday evening, Williams said that he was driving the Lamborghini when the accident happened, after a car in front of him stopped quickly.

      "The driver in front of me slammed on his brakes and I turned to the left and hopped the curb to avoid hitting him," the statement read, in part. "I got his insurance information and my neighbor picked me up when my car wouldn't drive. I live right near where the accident occurred, so my neighbor dropped me off and I called a tow truck and took the scooter from my house to go meet the tow truck driver.

      "The police officer, who I have met in the past in the neighborhood, saw me on the scooter and arrested me without performing any sobriety tests. I have always been an upstanding citizen and handled the situation the best way I know how. I apologize if I should have handled it a little bit differently."

      In releasing the statement, Lewis also said, "Contrary to media reports, Terrance did not hit a light pole and there was no light pole even near the vehicle."

      Williams, 28, was released from the Frisco Detention Center on a $369 bond. He was also given a misdemeanor at-large charge for leaving the scene of a crash.

      Wright, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent this spring, played with Williams at Baylor from 2009-11.

      --Field Level Media

  • Charges dropped, Foster rejoins 49ers
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, May 24, 2018

    A day after domestic violence charges against him were dropped, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster was back with his teammates on Thursday.

    • Foster joined the club's voluntary organized team activities in Santa Clara, Calif. He was with the team in an official capacity for the first time in more than a month.

      On Wednesday, Santa Clara (Calif.) County Judge Nona L. Klippen dropped two felony domestic violence charges against Foster. A week earlier, Foster's ex-girlfriend had recanted her Feb. 11 accusation that he hit her in the head eight to 10 times, causing facial bruises and a ruptured eardrum.

      Elissa Ennis told that court that she lied about Foster after he broke up with her, trying to ruin his career and "end him."

      Ennis won't face charges for making false statements. According to the Sacramento Bee, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office issued a statement that read: "We don't charge domestic violence victims who falsely recant. We empathize with them, we support them, and we advocate for them."

      Foster's legal troubles aren't completely behind him. He still faces a pre-trial hearing in Santa Clara on June 6 for an assault-weapon change that was reduced to a misdemeanor from a felony. He also has a June 20 court date in Alabama regarding a January arrest on a marijuana charge.

      In addition, the NFL could discipline Foster under its personal-conduct policy.

      --Field Level Media

  • Players react to Trump's comments; LB Marshall calls them 'disgusting'
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, May 24, 2018

    Several NFL players responded harshly Thursday to President Donald Trump's comments supporting the league's new national anthem policy, which calls for fines or punishment for any form of disrespect during the anthem.

    • "I think that's good," Trump said in an interview with "Fox & Friends" that taped Wednesday and aired Thursday. "I don't think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but still I think it's good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country."

      Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who knelt during the anthem before several games during the 2016 season and once last season, called Trump's words "disgusting."

      "I say disgusting because of our First Amendment rights,'' he said. "We've got freedom of speech, right? Freedom to protest? Just because somebody chooses to protest, now we've got to be kicked out of the country? That's not how things should work, in my opinion. It's not about, just because somebody disagrees with something, if I don't stand for the anthem, if I don't like what's going on, that's basically him saying I should be kicked out the country.

      "... Everybody is not going to agree on things, everybody is not going to have the same opinion on things, so just because somebody disagrees on something, an issue, with something that's going on in this country, that they should pack up and leave -- that's absurd, in my opinion.''

      Seattle Seahawks wideout Doug Baldwin also had a strong reaction to the president's comments.

      "He's an idiot," Baldwin said of Trump. "Plain and simple." I respect the man because he's a human being, first and foremost. He's just being more divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is.

      "For him to say that anyone who doesn't follow his viewpoints or his constituents' viewpoints should be kicked out of the country, it's not very empathetic, it's not very American-like, actually to me. It's not very patriotic. It's not what this country was founded upon. It's kind of ironic to me that the President of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on."

      A college roommate of Colin Kaepernick while the pair played together at Nevada, Marshall was one of the first players to join Kaepernick in kneeling during the anthem to protest social injustice. Marshall added that while he doesn't like the league's new anthem policy, he understands why it was put in place.

      "That's my opinion: I don't like it,'' he said. "I understand it, though, I don't like it, but I understand it and what they're trying to protect -- they're trying to protect the shield. The reason we did this in the first place, was to bring attention to police brutality, that's the reason, that was just a symbol for what was going on, just like the flag is a symbol of America.

      "So, taking a knee was a symbol and the work came after that. Colin has been doing work, I've been doing work, Malcolm Jenkins, a bunch of guys have been doing work, so to me the knee wasn't the end all, be all. There should have been action behind the knee, and there was.''

      Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns said he plans to stand for the anthem, but he opposes the new policy and expects it to be a source of division, rather than unity, within teams. He described the new rules as a form of "bullying" and said the subject will be "another topic to get everybody against each other."

      "It makes (protesters) look bad," Burns said. "Your whole team is out there (for the anthem) and you come running out (of the locker room) like, 'Oh, he's the guy.' Who wants to go through that? That's humiliating us as a person, because we're trying to stand for something, to single us out in front of everybody."

      Marshall isn't so sure the new policy will limit protesting, in part because its language indicates teams will be fined for any form of disrespect shown during the anthem, rather than players being fined.

      "I feel like it might make people rebel,'' he said. " ... And let's be clear, they say they might fine the team, but players don't care about that -- players don't care if the team gets fined.''

      --Field Level Media

  • Bucs sign 1st-rounder Vea; Cards, Chiefs sign 2nd-rounders
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, May 24, 2018

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed first-round pick Vita Vea, the club announced Thursday.

    • Vea, a defensive tackle, reportedly received a four-year, $14.82 million deal. As with all first-round rookie contracts, Vea's deal includes a fifth-year option.

      Vea was the 12th overall pick of the draft after a standout junior season at Washington. He had 44 tackles and accumulated 5.5 stops for losses (including 2.5 sacks) and also blocked a punt while being named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 347-pound Vea is expected to eventually become a fixture at defensive tackle for the Buccaneers.

      Later Thursday, the team announced the signing of second-round cornerback Carlton Davis, the seventh of the eight-man class to sign. The only remaining unsigned pick is USC running back Ronald Jones II, another second-rounder.

      Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals signed second-round wide receiver Christian Kirk to a four-year contract, the team announced.

      Kirk, 21, was taken 47th overall and is expected to contribute immediately for Arizona, with the potential to take over as the team's slot receiver when Larry Fitzgerald retires. The team has now signed five of its six selections from last month's draft, with only third-round center Mason Cole unsigned.

      "Obviously I've been with the team for some weeks, but to be officially signed is awesome," Kirk told the team's website. "It's such a great feeling and the official start of a new journey."

      The Kansas City Chiefs also signed their second-round pick, defensive end/outside linebacker Breeland Speaks, on Thursday.

      Speaks, 22, was the Chiefs' top 2018 draft pick after they traded away their first-rounder in a deal to move up for Patrick Mahomes in 2017. Kansas City traded up eight spots to No. 46 overall to grab the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Speaks, who played defensive end in college but will move to outside linebacker in the Chiefs' 3-4 defense.

      His signing is the fourth of the team's six-man draft class, leaving third-rounders Derrick Nnadi, a defensive tackle, and Dorian O'Daniel, a linebacker, as the only unsigned picks.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL used show of hands over formal anthem vote
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, May 24, 2018

    The NFL did not hold a formal roll call vote in passing its controversial national anthem policy, instead opting to use a show of hands, league spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed to ESPN.

    • The informal decision to use a show of hands came after hours of debate and surprised some in the room, according to ESPN, which first reported earlier in the day that a formal vote wasn't used as typically is the case with major rulings.

      McCarthy told ESPN the show of hands process is used often and that there were zero nays.

      The NFL's new anthem policy requires players, coaches and personnel on the field to stand when the national anthem is played. The policy permits teams to choose to stay in the locker room during the national anthem, but calls for fines and punishment for any mode of disrespect.

      Commissioner Roger Goodell said owners unanimously approved the anthem policy, but at least one owner, Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers, abstained. ESPN reports Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis also abstained from voting, though the NFL said otherwise.

      The new policy has been divisive throughout the NFL since being announced Wednesday. Players claim they were not consulted and immediately threatened to challenge the policy. A terse statement from the NFL Players Association claimed the NFL and its owners went rogue in establishing anthem guidelines after an effort to work together with players.

      "Our union will review the new 'policy' and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement," the NFLPA statement read.

      The policy change has also drawn attention outside of football. President Donald Trump said he believes the NFL is "doing the right thing" with the change while Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Thursday slammed it as "idiotic" and "typical of the NFL."

      --Field Level Media

  • Dolphins QB Tannehill excited to be back on field
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, May 24, 2018

    Ryan Tannehill is back on the practice field and was even fine with fielding questions from reporters on Thursday for the first time since last August.

    • Simply put, the Miami Dolphins quarterback missed everything associated with the game after being sidelined for the entire 2017 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

      "Back from the dead," Tannehill joked at the start of his press conference.

      And now back on the practice field this week as the 29-year-old looks to get himself physically ready for the 2018 campaign.

      He sounded like a person in awe to once again have the opportunity to partake in NFL offseason practice sessions.

      "It feels amazing to be back out there," Tannehill said. "A long road to be back on the field, a lot of hard work. A lot of time and effort put in by myself. I got guys in the training room, helping me, getting me right. So I've had help along the way but it took a lot of work to get back, put a helmet back on and step on the grass again.

      "I was telling the guys I remember sitting in the cafeteria (that overlooks the Dolphins practice field) looking through the glass like a little kid that's not allowed to go outside and play. I feel blessed to be able to go out, compete and play and do what I love."

      Tannehill isn't currently wearing a brace but said he will wear one during the 2018 season.

      He has suffered two injuries to the same knee, the first causing him to miss the final three games of the 2016 regular season in addition to the team's playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

      Prior to the first knee injury, Tannehill played in 77 consecutive regular-season games. He passed for 24 or more touchdowns three times and topped 4,000 yards twice.

      His absence last season wasn't a good thing for the Dolphins. Miami coaxed Jay Cutler out of retirement, but the team suffered through a 6-10 season.

      The Dolphins ignored draft speculation that they needed to take a quarterback because coach Adam Gase is mighty happy with the one he has.

      "It's great to have him back out there," Gase told reporters. "As long as we don't have a setback, I feel good. We're in a good place. I've seen him move around just as well as he ever has."

      The big test will be whether the knee holds up after taking a hit. That certainly won't occur before a preseason game.

      Tannehill is just fine with that.

      "I'm never eager to get hit," Tannehill said with a laugh. "I'd be sadistic. But I don't think about it any different than I would any other season going into a new season. It's a physical game, and I love that."

      --Field Level Media

  • Bills WR Jones sidelined by knee surgery
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, May 24, 2018

    Buffalo Bills wide receiver Zay Jones will miss the remainder of the team's spring workouts after undergoing knee surgery last week, coach Sean McDermott told reporters Thursday.

    • "At this point, we aren't concerned this injury will jeopardize his season," McDermott said.

      There is no timetable for Jones' recovery.

      Jones disappointed as a rookie last season after coming out of the draft as the No. 37 overall pick in the second round. The 23-year-old caught 27 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games.

      After the season, Jones' father, former Pro Bowl linebacker Robert Jones, appeared on a podcast and revealed his son played through a torn labrum for the majority of the season that required surgery in January.

      Zay Jones was arrested on a felony vandalism charge in March following a bizarre incident in Los Angeles in which he allegedly broke a window and glass door at an apartment building. Prosecutors later dropped the charges, citing "insufficient evidence."

      Jones is expected to step up this year as part of an unestablished Bills receiving corps that features Kelvin Benjamin as the only other returning receiver to amass at least 200 yards last season. Buffalo selected two receivers in last month's draft: Sixth-round pick Ray-Ray McCloud and seventh-rounder Austin Proehl.

      --Field Level Media

  • Trump lauds NFL's new anthem policy
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, May 24, 2018

    President Donald Trump believes the NFL is "doing the right thing" with its new policy that requires players, coaches and personnel on the field to stand when the national anthem is played.

    • The NFL policy permits teams to choose to stay in the locker room during the national anthem, but calls for fines and punishment for any mode of disrespect.

      "I think that's good," Trump said in an interview with "Fox & Friends" that taped Wednesday and aired Thursday. "I don't think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but still I think it's good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country."

      Trump created an uproar from players in 2017 with inflammatory comments objecting to player protests during the anthem. He told "Fox & Friends," however, that it was "the people" who inspired the new policy.

      "This wasn't me," Trump said. "I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward."

      While Trump supports the change, the new policy has been divisive throughout the NFL since being announced Wednesday. Players claim they were not consulted and immediately threatened to challenge the policy. A terse statement from the NFL Players Association claimed the NFL and its owners went rogue in establishing anthem guidelines after an effort to work together with players.

      "The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new 'policy.' NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about," the NFLPA statement read, underlining that players kneeling was not a protest of the national anthem.

      "The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL's Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.

      "Our union will review the new 'policy' and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement."

      Goodell said owners unanimously approved the anthem policy, but at least one owner, Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers, abstained. York said he felt the need to seek additional player input.

      New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said he supported the measure out of obligation to the membership, but said players can take a knee or perform another type of protest without fear of repercussion from the team. He will pay their fines.

      On the final day of league meetings in Atlanta, owners prioritized establishing team and league protocol for the national anthem, which became a polarizing issue over the past two seasons due to peaceful protests started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

      "We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society. The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress," Goodell said Wednesday. "It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case."

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: Owners adopt anthem policy, players upset
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    NFL owners approved a policy on Wednesday for player conduct during the national anthem. Players, coaches and personnel on the field must stand when the anthem is played or they will be fined and disciplined.

    • The decision could tee up players and owners for litigation. Players maintain they were not consulted and immediately threatened to challenge the policy. The NFLPA said it "will review the new 'policy' and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement."

      Commissioner Roger Goodell said owners unanimously approved the anthem policy, but at least one owner, Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers, abstained. York said he felt the need to seek additional player input. Meanwhile, New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said his team's players are free to protest without fear of NFL or team fines and that he will cover the cost if his players are fined.

      --San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster had his two felony domestic violence charges against him dismissed by a judge.

      Santa Clara (Calif.) County Judge Nona L. Klippen made the decision, citing insufficient evidence to believe the domestic violence charges rose to the level of probable cause after listening to the testimony of Foster's ex-girlfriend, Elissa Ennis. Ennis testified last Thursday that she initially lied to police about Foster hitting her on Feb. 11 and did so in an attempt to ruin Foster's career and "end him."

      Foster also had the gun charge against him reduced to a misdemeanor, and the pretrial for that case is scheduled for June 6. Foster has not participated in the 49ers' offseason program since he was charged in mid-April. He is scheduled to appear in court for his marijuana possession arrest in January on June 20, according to a report from NFL Network, and remains subject to discipline by the NFL under the league's personal-conduct policy.

      --Former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Richie Incognito is being held for mental evaluation in South Florida after an altercation at a Boca Raton gym, according to local police.

      The alleged altercation, in which Incognito was said to have thrown a tennis ball and then a dumb bell at a fellow gym patron, was first reported by TMZ. Incognito was also said to be ranting about the government and yelled at the man to "get off my (expletive) playground."

      Incognito was released from the reserve/retired list by Buffalo on Monday. He suddenly retired last month, citing health concerns from his personal physician, but multiple reports indicated his contract played a major role.

      --New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters that quarterback Tom Brady has told him he will be on hand when the team holds its mandatory minicamp from June 5-7.

      "I think he's very excited about the upcoming season," Kraft said at the owners meeting in Atlanta, per ESPN. "These are voluntary workouts, and I think he's in great shape. I think he's at an age where -- I was thinking back to when he joined us -- he's blessed to have three children now and built a number of businesses and has certain responsibilities. I think it's very hard for him to fulfill those during the season and the commitment he has to football."

      Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski have not participated in voluntary workouts this week, although both are expected to attend the mandatory session in June.

      --The NFL named Arizona and New Orleans as hosts for future Super Bowls.

      With the sites through 2022 already in place, the league picked University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., as the site for Super Bowl LVII in 2023. Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans will host the following year, the eighth time it will be held there, a single-venue record.

      The owners also awarded the 2019 NFL Draft hosting duties to Nashville.

      --Right guard Zack Martin is not taking part in the Dallas Cowboys' voluntary OTAs for the second straight day as he looks to work out a contract extension, according to ESPN's Todd Archer.

      Martin is in the final year of his five-year rookie deal and was first-team All-Pro in 2014 and 2016. He is due to make $9.4 million this season.

      Martin, the 16th overall pick out of Notre Dame in 2014, has started every game since joining the team, making the Pro Bowl every season. Martin has been working out with teammates in the offseason and spent Tuesday working with strength and conditioning coaches.

      --The Pittsburgh Steelers reached agreement on a deal with quarterback Mason Rudolph, a 2018 third-round draft pick, according to multiple reports.

      That leaves the Steelers with only first-round pick Terrell Edmunds unsigned.

      News of the four-year deal for Rudolph comes on the heels of a warming in the relationship between the rookie and longtime Steelers star QB Ben Roethlisberger, who promised to help mentor Rudolph after practice on Tuesday.

      --Nick Foles could make up to $14 million in incentives in his reworked deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

      Most of that money, however, are dependent on quarterback Carson Wentz being sidelined either to start the season or during it.

      The restructured deal, which includes a mutual option, had been characterized as a raise for the Super Bowl MVP, but without incentives is actually $1 million less than he was slated to make in 2018. According to the reported details, Foles received a $2 million signing bonus and has a base salary of $4 million.

      --Field Level Media

  • 49ers LB Foster has domestic violence charges dismissed
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster had his two felony domestic violence charges against him dismissed by a judge Wednesday.

    • Santa Clara (Calif.) County Judge Nona L. Klippen made the decision, citing insufficient evidence to believe the domestic violence charges rose to the level of probable cause after listening to the testimony of Foster's ex-girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, last week.

      Foster, 24, also had the gun charge against him reduced to a misdemeanor, and the pretrial for that case is scheduled for June 6.

      Niners general manager John Lynch said in a statement later Wednesday that Foster can return to the team's offseason program on Thursday.

      "The organization is aware the domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster were dismissed earlier today," Lynch said. "As a result, he will have the opportunity to rejoin the team tomorrow. It has been made clear to Reuben that his place on this team is one that must continue to be earned. We will continue to monitor the remaining misdemeanor charge."

      Ennis testified at the Santa Clara Hall of Justice on May 17 that she initially lied to police about Foster hitting her on Feb. 11 and did so in an attempt to ruin Foster's career and "end him."

      Ennis originally told police Foster hit her in the head eight to 10 times, causing facial bruises and a ruptured eardrum. Ennis had since recanted that statement, and in her testimony she said she "lied a lot" to authorities about the incident.

      Ennis, testifying against the advice of attorney Stephanie Rickard, said Foster never put his hands on her and that she said he did in an attempt to sue him for money after he broke up with her the morning of Feb. 11. She also admitted to stealing more than $8,000 and two Rolex watches from Foster after their breakup.

      "I was pissed and I wanted to end him," Ennis said in her testimony.

      Ennis also testified that she falsely accused a former boyfriend of domestic violence in 2011 after he attempted to break up with her.

      Foster was in attendance throughout the testimony. He pleaded not guilty earlier this month to three felony charges stemming from the incident: domestic violence with an allegation of great bodily injury, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime and possession of an assault weapon.

      Foster has not participated in the 49ers' offseason program since he was charged in mid-April. He is scheduled to appear in court for his marijuana possession arrest in January on June 20, according to a report from NFL Network.

      Foster remains subject to discipline by the NFL under the league's personal-conduct policy.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cowboys RG Martin skips practice as he seeks new deal
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    Right guard Zack Martin is not taking part in the Dallas Cowboys' voluntary OTAs for the second straight day on Wednesday as he looks to work out a contract extension, according to ESPN's Todd Archer.

    • Martin is in the final year of his five-year rookie deal and was first-team All-Pro in 2014 and 2016. He's due to make $9.4 million this season.

      Martin, the 16th overall pick out of Notre Dame in 2014, has started every game since joining the team, making the Pro Bowl every season.

      "We've had really good conversations about this, he and I have, and I know there's ongoing dialogue between his representatives and the Joneses about it," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, per ESPN.

      "He's one of the best players we have. He represents everything we want. We want him to be here for a long, long time. But there's a business side to this, and we all understand that."

      Martin has been working out with teammates in the offseason and spent Tuesday working with strength and conditioning coaches.

      The Cowboys have intimated they are willing to make Martin the highest paid player at his position. That honor currently belongs to former Carolina Panther Andrew Norwell, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the offseason for $66 million over five years.

      Mandatory minicamp for the Cowboys runs from June 12-14.

      --Field Level Media

  • Some NFL owners ready to go rogue on new anthem policy
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL touted a new anthem policy in Atlanta on Wednesday, but signs of serious aftershocks were felt almost instantly.

    • The NFLPA lashed back against the league for creating a protocol that did not adhere to the collective bargaining agreement, nor did the NFL and its owners include players in conversation about the new policy demanding teams and its players stand if on the field for the Star-Spangled Banner.

      With that in mind, San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York said he abstained from an otherwise unanimous vote on the final day of the owner's meetings.

      York said he felt players and officials should have direct input on the matter.

      In October, he said he supported players -- including former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid -- and their right to protest.

      "We encourage (players) to stand, but we're not requiring you to do anything," he said. "You can express yourself, but we want you to stand because you want to stand. ... And we want to make our country and our communities a better place -- not because you're forcing us to, but because we're compelled to."

      The NFL policy permits teams to choose to stay in the locker room during the national anthem, but calls for fines and punishment for any mode of disrespect. Steelers owner Art Rooney said that would include players holding a fist over their head and locking arms. Cowboys owner Stephen Jones said there is no fine schedule for anthem-related penalties and that owners will know disrespect "when we see it."

      New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said in March a change in anthem protocol was uncalled for, but he did vote with the majority on Wednesday in the name of the good of the game.

      However, Johnson said Jets' players are free to protest without fear of NFL or team fines. Johnson said if his players are fined, he will cover the cost.

      "I do not like imposing any club-specific rules," Johnson told Newsday. "If somebody (on the Jets) takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we're all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don't want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won't. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that's just something I'll have to bear."

      Johnson plans to huddle with players at his first opportunity.

      "Even without those fines, this is going to be tough on the players, and I want a chance to speak with the coaches and other players to get feedback on this policy and to build on the good work and momentum that we have built up on these issues of social justice, on legislation, and all the things that we can do," he said.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Foles' restructured deal has $14M in incentives
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    Nick Foles could make up to $14 million in incentives in his reworked deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

    • Most of those, however, are dependent on quarterback Carson Wentz being sidelined either to start the season or during it.

      Among the reported incentives, Foles would receive $250,000 for any game in which he takes at least 33 percent of the snaps, with another $250,000 if the game results in a win. That would make for a potential $8 million. The numbers double in the postseason, which would account for another $4 million. He could also earn $500,000 for making the Pro Bowl (though not if he's selected as a replacement) and $1 million if he plays 33 percent of snaps total and the Eagles make the playoffs. That number jumps to $1.5 million if he takes at least half the snaps.

      The restructured deal, which includes a mutual option, for the Super Bowl MVP had been characterized as a raise for Foles, but without incentives is actually $1 million less than he was slated to make in 2018. According to the reported details, Foles received a $2 million signing bonus and has a base salary of $4 million.

      Foles was reportedly scheduled to make a total of $7 million in 2018, the final year of a two-year deal he signed before last season. With the mutual option, he will still have the chance to hit the open market after next season; the option would seem to also lessen the likelihood the Eagles would look to trade Foles during the season rather than risk losing him for nothing next spring.

      Foles was even drawing pretty frequent trade speculation this offseason. The issue for the Eagles was the status of Wentz, who suffered torn knee ligaments in Week 14 last season, an injury which opened the door for Foles' heroics.

      After a shaky finish to the regular season, Foles sparkled in the postseason, culminating with the MVP performance in the 41-33 win over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL owners adopt anthem policy; Players plan to fight
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    NFL owners opted on Wednesday to approve a policy for player conduct during the national anthem. Players, coaches and personnel on the field must stand when the anthem is played, or will be fined and disciplined.

    • The decision could tee up players and owners for litigation.

      Players claim they were not consulted and immediately threatened to challenge the policy. In a terse statement from the NFLPA, players claimed the NFL and its owners went rogue in establishing anthem guidelines after an effort to work together with players.

      "The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new 'policy.' NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about," the NFLPA statement read, underlining that players kneeling was not a protest of the national anthem.

      "The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL's Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.

      "Our union will review the new 'policy' and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement."

      Goodell said owners unanimously approved the anthem policy, but at least one owner, Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers, abstained. York said he felt the need to seek additional player input.

      New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said he supported the measure out of obligation to the membership, but said players can take a knee or perform another type of protest without fear of repercussion from the team. He will pay their fines.

      "I do not like imposing any club-specific rules," Johnson said. "If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we're all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don't want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won't. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that's just something I'll have to bear."

      On the final day of league meetings in Atlanta, owners prioritized establishing team and league protocol for the national anthem, which became a polarizing issue over the past two seasons due to peaceful protests started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, now out of the league.

      "We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.

      The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress," commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday. "It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.

      "This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed."

      The policy, released in full by the NFL on Wednesday, reads:

      --All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

      --The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.

      --Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.

      --A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

      --Each club may develop its own rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

      --The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

      A player choosing to kneel for the anthem would be fined. It was unclear Wednesday whether players holding a fist above their head while standing during the anthem would be a fineable offense.

      Dallas Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said there is no fine schedule established from the league level on anthem issues. Asked to define disrespect, he said owners would know it when they see it.

      "Maybe this new rule proposal that is being voted on is a 'compromise' between the NFL office and club CEOs on various sides of the issue, but certainly not with player leadership; we weren't there or part of the discussions," wrote George Atallah, NFLPA executive director of external affairs via Twitter.

      Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Michael Bennett, last year with the Seahawks, and Rams cornerback Marcus Peters (with the Chiefs in 2017) all protested by standing with their right fist raised.

      Steelers owner Art Rooney said Wednesday that raising a fist or players linking arms would be viewed by his franchise as disrespect.

      "I think any form of protest is a form of protest. We didn't define exactly what you have to be doing to be out there, but I think everybody understands what it means to be respectful during the anthem," Rooney told the Detroit Free Press.

      President Donald Trump caused an uproar from players in 2017 with inflammatory comments objecting to player protests during the anthem.

      This week, he praised NASCAR for its universal policy in which drivers and crew stand during the pre-race playing of the national anthem.

      "And I will tell you -- one thing I know about NASCAR, they do indeed, stand for the playing of the national anthem," Trump said.

      ESPN reported Wednesday that owners view the policy change as compromise, while not allowing player protests during the anthem.

      In 2017, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said in a private meeting of owners that the league does not want "inmates running the prison," a reference to players protesting. McNair apologized and in April said he regretted the apology. McNair, in an attempt to clarify, claimed he was referring to team executives overstepping their bounds in dealing with owners last year, rather than kneeling players, when he said the word "inmates."

      Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said last year his players "will always stand" for the national anthem.

      Jerry Jones pointed to concern about sponsors being turned off by anthem protests.

      York said Wednesday that his team will consider closing concessions during the anthem.

      "I don't think we should be profiting if we're going to put this type of attention and focus on the field and on the flag," he said.

      Kaepernick has not played since 2016 and filed a collusion case against NFL owners alleging a concerted effort was made to keep him out of football. Former teammate Eric Reid, a safety with the 49ers and unrestricted free agent, is following suit.

      Reid, who joined Kaepernick in kneeling to bring attention to social injustice, visited only one team -- the Cincinnati Bengals -- and was asked if he would continue to kneel during the anthem by team ownership.

      Kaepernick had a visit scheduled with the Seattle Seahawks -- the only team to host Kaepernick in 2017 -- but it was postponed because management wanted greater clarity on Kaepernick's intentions during pregame.

      --Field Level Media

  • Arizona, New Orleans named as 2023-24 Super Bowl hosts
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    The NFL has named Arizona and New Orleans as hosts for future Super Bowls as the spring meetings in Atlanta draw to a close on Wednesday.

    • With the sites through 2022 already in place, the league picked University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. as the site for Super Bowl LVII in 2023. Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans will host the following year, the eighth time it will be held there, a single-venue record.

      That would make for the fourth time a Super Bowl has been hosted in Arizona (third at University of Phoenix Stadium) and a record-tying 11th time for New Orleans. Miami, which will host the Super Bowl after the 2019 season, will also have hosted the game 11 times at multiple stadiums.

      Atlanta is the site of next season's Super Bowl LIII, which will showcase the team's new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The aforementioned game in Miami is up next, followed by Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. The game in L.A. will be played in the stadium being built for the Rams and Chargers to share.

      The NFL is ending the process of potential host cities bidding to win the league's approval. Instead, the league will ask cities if they would like to host the game, while giving special merit to locations that have new stadiums.

      The owners also awarded the 2019 NFL Draft hosting duties to Nashville on Wednesday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Steelers agree to terms with rookie QB Rudolph
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    The Pittsburgh Steelers reached agreement on a deal with quarterback Mason Rudolph, a 2018 third-round draft pick, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

    • That leaves the Steelers with only first-round pick Terrell Edmunds unsigned.

      "Steelers have agreed to terms with third-round quarterback Mason Rudolph to a four-year contract, according to a source. Top pick Terrell Edmunds is now the only unsigned Steeler draft pick," Fowler tweeted.

      News of the four-year deal comes on the heels of a warming in the relationship between Rudolph and longtime Steelers star QB Ben Roethlisberger, who promised to help mentor the rookie after practice on Tuesday.

      "I've never been the type to just be rude or mean to other quarterbacks," Roethlisberger said while coming off the field after a full team workout. "I've had a lot of quarterbacks through here that have been younger than me that I've tried to help. I'll continue to do that."

      Roethlisberger added that his comments making headlines after the draft were taken out of context. During OTAs on Tuesday, Roethlisberger gave Rudolph tips between drills and said he was impressed with the Oklahoma State product.

      "He's got a big arm. He seems to understand the offense, seems to not have any issues in the huddle, so I thought he did really well," Roethlisberger said of his first impression of Rudolph.

      Roethlisberger previously texted the third-round rookie to offer support before the team's rookie camp.

      "He reached out and said, 'Hey, good luck in rookie minicamp,'" Rudolph told reporters after his first rookie camp practice. "I was really appreciative of that. I just said, 'Hey, thanks, look forward to meeting you.' Wasn't a whole lot (of conversation), but it meant a lot that he reached out."

      On KDKA-AM radio, Roethlisberger said he was "surprised" the team drafted a quarterback, adding that the move passed up an opportunity to get "football players that can help this team win now."

      "Nothing against Mason, I think he's a great football player," Roethlisberger continued in the original comments that drew the ire of many. "...I just don't know how backing up or being the third guy -- who knows where he's going to be on the depth chart -- helps us win now."

      --Field Level Media

  • Nashville to host 2019 NFL Draft
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    The city of Nashville will host the 2019 NFL Draft after the owners approved the location Wednesday morning.

    • The decision came during the league's spring meeting in Atlanta, capping a lengthy push by Nashville's tourism industry. The Draft will take place between April 25-27.

      Music group Kings of Leon and Tennessee Titans star left tackle Taylor Lewan released a short video clip on Twitter to celebrate and welcome fans to the Music City.

      The 2020 event was also considered an opportunity for the city to host.

      The other candidates that bid on the opportunity to host in 2019 and 2020 were Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas City and a combination bid from Cleveland/Canton, Ohio. A winning city cannot host the draft in both years.

      The 2018 NFL Draft was held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The event was held in New York City from 1965-2014 before being moved to Chicago for 2015-16. Philadelphia hosted the 2017 draft.

      --Field Level Media

  • Kraft says Brady will report for mandatory minicamp
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    Team owner Robert Kraft told reporters Wednesday that quarterback Tom Brady has told him he'll be on hand when the New England Patriots hold mandatory minicamp from June 5-7.

    • "I think he's very excited about the upcoming season," Kraft said at the owners meeting in Atlanta, per ESPN. "These are voluntary workouts, and I think he's in great shape. I think he's at an age where -- I was thinking back to when he joined us -- he's blessed to have three children now and built a number of businesses and has certain responsibilities. I think it's very hard for him to fulfill those during the season and the commitment he has to football."

      "I can only say this: I know he's very excited about being at minicamp and having a very special season this year."

      Patriots head coach Bill Belichick deflected when Brady's name came up on Tuesday.

      "I'm not going to talk about the people that aren't here," when asked if he's spoken to Brady. "The guys who are here are improving, they're working hard. Those are the guys we're going to focus on."

      Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski have not participated in voluntary workouts this week, although both are expected to attend the mandatory session in June.

      Brady confirmed in late April that he intends to play the upcoming season, but has thus far skipped all voluntary activities this offseason. He has said he's taken more time for himself and his family in the wake of a 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.

      Brady guided the Patriots to the Super Bowl for the eighth time last season, an NFL record for any player, and he is a five-time champion. He won his third NFL Most Valuable Player award for the 2017 season after throwing for 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns.

      Brady, who turns 41 on Aug. 3, is set to make $15 million in 2018, tied with Cam Newton and Philip Rivers for 19th among NFL quarterbacks. He is scheduled to make the same figure in 2019, which currently ties Alex Smith for 23rd among signal-callers. Brady will count $22 million against the Patriots' cap in both seasons, which ranks tied for 11th in 2018 and 15th in 2019.

      Gronkowski, who turned 29 this month, is expected to receive an adjusted contract for the second consecutive year. Per CBA rules, any restructure to Gronkowski's contract involving incentives must take place at least 12 months after the previous one. The tight end signed an incentive-laden restructure on May 24 of last year.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL owners debate anthem policy
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    NFL owners are still debating where they stand collectively on the issue of players refusing to stand individually.

    • At the league meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday, no consensus was reached on how the NFL should handle players who don't want to stand for the national anthem.

      ESPN reported that numerous options were discussed, including one that would assess a 15-yard penalty and/or a fine if players don't stand.

      Other possibilities, per ESPN, include letting each team set its policy, clearing the field of all football personnel during the anthem, telling players who won't stand to remain in the locker room during the song, changing contract language to require standing for the anthem, or maintaining the status quo.

      MMQB's Albert Breer tweeted, "Per sources, one anthem idea being discussed: Leaving it up to home team on whether teams come out for the anthem; if teams do come out for the anthem, potential that teams could be assessed 15-yard penalties for kneeling."

      Currently, NFL regulations say that players "should" stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner."

      The issue exploded into a national debating point the past two seasons. Then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem as a form of social protest beginning in 2016, and other players followed. Last year, President Donald Trump ripped players who refused to stand for the anthem, and he called on the NFL to sanction those players who didn't stand.

      "We have all the interests in every constituency that's involved here," Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "We recognize that with our visibility and the interest themselves, it's taken on a life of its own. With all of that, we have to be measured.

      "We tell the world, 'Look at us. Don't turn your head. Look at us. Wait a minute. Look at the NFL, look at what we're doing.' And we understand that when you have some issues, we've asked you to look, now, so let's do as good as we can do."

      Jones, New York Giants owner John Mara, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson told USA Today Sports that talks about the subject were to continue into Wednesday.

      Mara told ESPN he thought a consensus could be reached.

      Detroit Lions president Ron Wood told the Detroit Free Press, "My preference would be to find a solution that works for everybody and it's done at a league level, so we'll see what happens the next couple days."

      Jones said Tuesday night, "I don't want to assess where we are tonight. We'll resume tomorrow. I wouldn't assess right now."

      --Field Level Media

  • Chargers TE Henry tears ACL
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Tuesday during the team's first day of organized team activities.

    • He almost certainly will miss entire 2018 season, though he plans to seek a second opinion Wednesday.

      Henry was hurt while running downfield untouched during a drill in Costa Mesa, Calif. He originally remained on the practice field but stood on the sideline for the last part of the session, according to the Los Angeles Daily News and ESPN.

      Coach Anthony Lynn initially said, "He's fine. We just held him back because we can."

      However, the team later announced the torn ACL diagnosis.

      Henry, 23, was set to enter this season as the Chargers' clear full-time starter at tight end with Antonio Gates no longer a member of the team. Henry, a 2016 second-round pick, has started 23 of 29 games through two NFL seasons, catching 81 passes for 1,057 yards and 12 scores, including eight as a rookie in 2016.

      "We really feel like this is Hunter Henry's time," general manager Tom Telesco said in April, according to the Daily News. "We need to get him even more involved than we did in the past."

      Gates is still a free agent and intends to return for a 16th NFL season, according to an ESPN report last month. At the time of the report, the Chargers confirmed that they had no plans to re-sign him, but things may change with Hunter out for the season.

      Gates, who turns 38 in June, played out the final season of a two-year, $11 million contract in 2017, catching 30 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games (four starts). His 114 career touchdown catches are an all-time record by a tight end (three ahead of Tony Gonzalez) and the most by any active NFL player (four ahead of Larry Fitzgerald).

      The Chargers also signed tight end Virgil Green -- who is primarily a blocker -- away from the rival Denver Broncos during free agency.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: QB Wentz happy with recovery
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz took part in individual drills during organized team activities on Tuesday, less than 5 1/2 months removed from surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left leg.

    • Wearing a brace on his left knee, Wentz, 25, went through the same drills as fellow signal-callers Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld and Joe Callahan, dropping back, shuffling in the pocket and resetting to throw both left and right. He also threw routes on air with receivers.

      Head coach Doug Pederson told reporters before practice that Wentz has yet to be medically cleared, but that he would be "involved in a handful of things" as part of his rehab.

      Wentz said Tuesday about his knee, "Every day it just gets a little better and a little more trust, little more faith in it. At the same time, you've got to be smart. You've got to be smart with what the doctors are saying. I feel that I've made really good strides both mentally and physically. I like where I'm at."

      --In an effort to improve safety, the NFL announced a handful of approved changes to kickoffs following a vote at the spring league meetings. The rule changes will be re-evaluated next offseason.

      The changes are designed to limit full-speed collisions, such as players on the kickoff having to be within 1 yard of the point of kickoff to prevent getting a running start downfield, and at least eight players on the returning team having to be in a 15-yard "setup zone" prior to the kickoff so more players are closer to where the ball is kicked in order to reduce speed.

      The NFL owners also expanded reviewable plays to include disqualification of players and approved ejection standards to go along with the "use of the helmet" rule. According to the new rule, ejection is possible if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent, provided the contact is clearly avoidable.

      --Kansas City Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris has been suspended without pay for the opening game of the 2018 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, the league announced. Harris will miss the Sept. 9 contest against the Los Angeles Chargers. He can rejoin the Chiefs the following day.

      Harris served two days in jail in March, stemming from a marijuana arrest in Bates County, Mo., 12 months earlier. He also received two years probation, was fined $500 and was ordered to complete 80 hours of community service and an NFL drug program.

      Harris, the No. 2 tight end behind star Travis Kelce, caught 18 passes for 224 yards and one touchdown last season.

      --Houston Texas linebacker Jadeveon Clowney will not participate in on-field workouts this week while recovering from a 2018 knee injury. According to the Texans, Clowney is not yet medically cleared.

      Clowney and the Texans are in talks regarding a long-term contract extension, and head coach Bill O'Brien said last month the team would not rush its top two edge rushers -- Clowney and defensive end J.J. Watt -- back from injuries.

      Watt was present but not participating, while quarterback Deshaun Watson participated in individual drills.

      --Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank does not envision anything that will keep Julio Jones from being with the team long term, amid reports that the wide receiver is angling for an updated contract. "I love Julio. He loves me. He loves Atlanta. He's going to be here forever," Blank told WXIA-TV from the league's meetings in Atlanta.

      NFL Network reported last week that Jones would sit out the team's organized team activities -- which are voluntary -- as he seeks "some sort of correction or update" to his contract, with the report adding the Falcons are "amenable" to tweaking the deal, in part because Jones is such a good player and a good teammate.

      The 29-year-old wideout is due $10.5 million in base salary this season and $12.5 million in 2019, which rank 12th and tied for eighth, respectively, among current NFL wide receivers. He was also absent from much of OTAs last year and missed the Falcons' offseason conditioning program earlier this spring.

      --Until practices are mandatory, the obligatory response to questions about absentee quarterback Tom Brady are to be expected from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

      "I'm not going to talk about the people that aren't here," Belichick said when asked if he's spoken to Brady. "The guys who are here are improving, they're working hard. Those are the guys we're going to focus on."

      Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski did not participate in voluntary workouts on Monday. Neither are expected until the mandatory minicamp for the Patriots from June 5-7.

      --Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is ready to mentor Mason Rudolph, an about-face considering his astonishment in the aftermath of Pittsburgh drafting his likely heir in last month.

      "I've never been the type to just be rude or mean to other quarterbacks," Roethlisberger said while coming off the field after a full team workout. "I've had a lot of quarterbacks through here that have been younger than me that I've tried to help. I'll continue to do that."

      Roethlisberger added that his comments making headlines after the draft were taken out of context. During OTAs, Roethlisberger gave Rudolph tips between drills and said he was impressed with the Oklahoma State product.

      --Teddy Bridgewater participated in 11-on-11 drills and showed no physical limitations in his first full practice with the New York Jets. "The goal is just go get better each day," Bridgewater said, adding, "I'm good (physically)."

      Bridgewater wore a sleeve on his surgically reconstructed left knee but ran drills including rollouts and sprints from the pocket without any sign of the issues that led to the Minnesota Vikings opting to cut ties with the former first-round pick.

      Signed to a one-year deal as an unrestricted free agent with only $500,000 guaranteed, Bridgewater is competing with Josh McCown and rookie Sam Darnold to be under center when the Jets open the regular season. Former second-round pick Christian Hackenberg did not take reps, and later in the day, head coach Todd Bowles announced Hackenberg was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

      --The NFL and its Players Coalition officially established a partnership to commit at least $90 million for efforts and programs combating social inequality. The partnership aims to bring players, teams and other groups together for a focused purpose, including a community improvement program that was agreed to in principle during the fall league meeting.

      NFL owners voted during league meetings in Florida in March to implement a local matching funds component to the social justice initiative with the Players Coalition.

      Player demonstrations during the national anthem before games last season created a polarizing divide among owners, including an exchange between Texans owner Bob McNair and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots. McNair infamously referred to players as "inmates" in comments reportedly made during a committee meeting last year.

      --The Philadelphia Eagles released linebacker Mychal Kendricks after he was mentioned as a possible trade candidate throughout the offseason.

      According to ESPN, Kendricks will be designated as a post-June 1 release, which would save the team an extra $1.6 million against the 2019 cap. The 27-year-old was set to make $5.85 million in base salary this year while counting $7.6 million against the Eagles' cap. Philadelphia will save a total of $6 million, with half of his $3.2 million in dead money being pushed onto the 2019 cap.

      Kendricks' release comes on the same day that recently signed linebacker Paul Worrilow went down with a knee injury during the team's first practice of organized team activities. According to multiple reports, Worrilow tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will miss the season.

      --Early in the NFL offseason, the Cleveland Browns offered a second-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Nick Foles, according to Michael Silver of NFL.com. Philadelphia's backup QB last year, Foles took over for an injured Carson Wentz with three weeks to go in the regular season and led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory, 41-33 over the New England Patriots in February.

      The Eagles talked about such a trade with Foles, who said he wanted to stay in Philadelphia, Silver reported. At that point, the Eagles reportedly declined Cleveland's offer.

      The Browns later traded a third-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and Foles, the Super Bowl MVP after he threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns and caught a TD pass, agreed to a revamped deal with the Eagles that gave him a $2 million bonus for 2018 and could produce $14 million in incentives while creating a mutual option for him to remain with the team in 2019.

      --Tyrod Taylor trained himself to look the other way when observers overlook his ability, a tactic that might come in handy with No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield joining the Cleveland Browns' depth chart.

      "I was drafted in 2011," Taylor said, according to Cleveland.com. "(Ten) quarterbacks were taken ahead of me. Two of them are playing now. And that's not any disrespect to the guys who aren't playing, but what drove me every day was remembering my mom and my parents' faces and the feeling that I had on draft day, not being happy about that."

      Head coach Hue Jackson and Mayfield said Taylor is the starter, but Mayfield also stressed in the pre-draft process that it's not in his nature to accept a backup job. General manager John Dorsey appears to be following the plan executed by the Kansas City Chiefs -- where Dorsey served as GM before Andy Reid let him go last summer -- when Patrick Mahomes watched Alex Smith for a full season, then Smith was traded to clear the decks for Mahomes, who impressed in a Week 17 start.

      --Washington Redskins offensive guard Arie Kouandjio was waived with an injury. Kouandjio underwent surgery to repair a quad injury that is expected to be season-ending. If he goes unclaimed, Kouandjio would revert to the Redskins' roster.

      Kouandjio, 26, is entering his fourth season out of Alabama and has eight career starts in 16 total games played. According to NFL Network, Kouandjio had a second opinion on his partially torn quad before opting for surgery earlier this month.

      Kouandjio stepped into the lineup last season with six starts after the Redskins' offensive line was beset by injuries.

      --The NFL approved the Carolina Panthers' sale to former Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner David Tepper by a 32-0 vote at the league's meetings in Atlanta.

      "The first thing I care about is winning," Tepper told reporters. "The second thing I care about is winning. The third thing I care about is winning -- on and off the field."

      Tepper, 60, is the founder of hedge fund Appaloosa Management L.P. and has a net worth estimated by Forbes to be $11 billion. He is buying the Panthers from founder Jerry Richardson for $2.275 billion, the largest sum ever paid for an NFL franchise, and the details of which are expected to be finalized in July. Tepper must sell the 5 percent stake that he owns in the Steelers, per NFL rules.

      --The New York Giants signed receiver Russell Shepard, the team announced. According to the NFL Network, the deal is worth $1.3 million for one year and could reach $2 million with incentives.

      Shepard, 27, was released by the Carolina Panthers last week when he declined to take a pay cut. He had just 17 receptions for 202 yards and a touchdown in 15 games (three starts) for the Panthers last season.

      He signed a three-year, $10 million deal with Carolina prior to the 2017 season while current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman served in the same role for the Panthers.

      --The Cleveland Browns signed third-round pick Chad Thomas and fourth-rounder Antonio Callaway to their four-year rookie contracts, the team announced.

      Thomas' deal is worth about $4.061 million, with an estimated signing bonus of $1.056 million, according to Spotrac.com. Callaway's contract is worth $3.125 million, with an estimated signing bonus of just over $700,000.

      Thomas, a defensive lineman from Miami (Fla.), had 41 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season. Callaway, a receiver from Florida, missed the 2017 season due to suspension and has experienced multiple off-the-field incidents. He played 26 games (24 starts) for the Gators and had 89 receptions for 1,399 yards and seven touchdowns.

      --Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson confirmed the team will be accepting an invitation to visit the White House on June 5 in recognition of their Super Bowl LII victory over the New England Patriots.

      "Well, right now, obviously, June 5 is the day we're going to go," Pederson told reporters before the Eagles' first practice of organized team activities. "I'm excited to be going to be honored as world champions. It's a great honor. We're still working through some logistics right now, so we don't have all the details today, but excited to be going."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Browns offered 2nd-round pick for Foles
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks traditionally celebrate by going to Disney World, but the Browns wanted Nick Foles to go to Cleveland.

    • Early in the NFL offseason, the Browns offered a second-round draft pick to the Eagles for Foles, according to Michael Silver of NFL.com. Philadelphia's backup QB last year, Foles took over for an injured Carson Wentz with three weeks to go in the regular season and led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory, 41-33 over the New England Patriots in February.

      The Eagles talked about such a trade with Foles, who said he wanted to stay in Philadelphia, Silver reported. At that point, the Eagles reportedly declined Cleveland's offer.

      The Browns later traded a third-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Coach Hue Jackson has been emphatic that Taylor will be the starting quarterback, not Baker Mayfield, the Oklahoma standout whom the Browns took with the first overall pick in last month's NFL Draft.

      Foles was the MVP of Super Bowl LII after he threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns and caught a TD pass. He agreed to a revamped deal with the Eagles that gave him a $2 million bonus for 2018 and could produce $14 million in incentives while creating a mutual option for him to remain with the team in 2019, according to Silver.

      Foles offers the Eagles an insurance policy in case Wentz doesn't make it back for the start of the season. The quarterback sustained a torn ACL in a December win over the Los Angeles Rams.

      Wentz has said his goal is to be ready for the Eagles' season opener, a Thursday game against the visiting Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 6. It will be a rematch of the NFC Championship Game in January, won by the Eagles 15-10.

      In 13 games last season, Wentz completed 60.2 percent of his passes, throwing for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns with only seven interceptions.

      Foles appeared in seven regular-season games, completing 56 percent of his passes, good for 537 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. He is a career 60.1 percent passer for 9,752 career yards and 61 touchdowns with 29 interceptions.

      Foles played for the Eagles previously from 2012 to 2014. He made stops with the then-St. Louis Rams in 2015 and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016 before returning to the Eagles last season.

      --Field Level Media